The Best of Brussels and Ghent

Brussels is a city that is extremely underrated! I mean how can you go wrong with a city thriving off of beer, waffles and fry’s! A statue of a peeing baby is their most famous tourist attraction and it has over 300 outfits… what’s not to love?

To know before you go!

  • Euros are used here (YAY!)
  • You will never feel like a foreigner, the city is made up of foreigners (half the people are Dutch and half are French!)
  • Everyone speaks either French or Dutch, English is a little harder to find!
  • **WARNING** don’t call the fries French fries! Just don’t do it, very sensitive topic.
  • 2go4 hostel has a free walking tour I totally recommend. We saw all of Brussels in 3 hours then we got to go back and explore what we wanted!
  • There is a legend for everything!
  • Never try the same beer twice!
  • Waffles are meant to be eaten plain! Maybe with sugar, but everyone will know you’re a tourist if you get the one with 10000 toppings (though they are tempting.)
  • There is a certain type of glass for every beer. All the tourist tries and steal them (I wish I did) but you will get in trouble if caught.

Hostel

2go4- Very nice! I stayed in a room with 3 twin beds and our own bathroom, which is perfect! The location was walking distance from the Grand palace and also the train station. The lobby was very vintage looking and included free coffee in the morning! Again free walking tour that I recommend!

The Sites

Grand palace

  • Beautiful old buildings in a square with city hall towering over you is deff a site to see! Each street has it original market name for example cheese street, coal street, meat street. One of the buildings is where Karl Marx lived and wrote the communist manifesto during his exile. This is a quick thing can be done in 30 mins or so.

Manneken Pis

  • Biggest (and lamest) tourist attraction in Brussels. It literally is a little baby peeing into the fountain. Legend has it that when Brussels was under attack a baby saw a piece of dynamite in the city, so he peed on it so it would not explode. Thus the manneken pis was born. In the 80s two college students stole it and the city went into chaos! Eventually the police located the statue and thieves and as a punishment they had to make hand-sewn outfits for the baby. There’s a schedule of when the baby is wearing an outfit and everything.

The Atomium

  • Think giant steel balls in the sky. Literally that’s all this is. They say its brussels version of the Effile tower, not as grand in my opinion. We went at night and saw them lit up which was pretty cool but did not do a tour or anything. Type of attraction you take a pic and then call it a day.

St Michael’s Church

  • Beautiful from the outside but I wish we did a tour of the inside.

Museum row

  • Really cool buildings from the outside but each building was a different museum. There was the modern museum and the fin-de-siècle which we went to for 3 euros… these were pretty boring to be honest but if you’re a fan of fine art this is the place for you! There is the museum of music which I was told was really cool plus there is a restaurant at the top that had a view of all of Brussels!

Jeanneke pis

  • Manneken pis sister… or girlfriends, depends who you ask. This is located right near the Delirium café and was put there to simply attract tourists to that area…. Smart.

Ghent or Bruggs

  • Both these city’s are close to Brussels and are a must if you are staying in Brussels for long. We went to Ghent and it was awesome, filed with young people and a beautiful river that went through the city. We took a boat ride (not worth it) but the streets are so cute and old! You can get to these cities from the north station for cheap!

To Eat/ Drink

Tonton Garby

  • MUST GO! I cannot rave about this place enough. At first glance it is a little hole in the wall deli-looking store with a big display counter and 2 tables. But the second you get to talk to Garby you’ll see that place is a gem. They serve sandwiches specializing in cheese! Don’t be afraid to order wrong because Garby will explain the whole menu to you, if you like sweet, salty ,or spicy he will come up with a sandwich that will blow you away. He was the warmest most genuine person I have met so far in Europe… definitely what we all needed from being away from home for so long. You will miss out if you don’t give this place a try, it is truly spectacular.

Delirium café

  • Guinness world record for having the best and most variety (over 3000) of beers. Such a tourist attraction but worth it! My friends and I shared 3 different types of beer that were all very different and amazing! If you don’t like beer you have never tried a strawberry flavored one before.

Flores Bar

  • Absinth bar…. I repeat,  Absinth BAR! Deadly…. Worth a try… but deadly (right across the street from Delirium.)

Dulle Griet (Ghent)

  • This bar is so much fun. When you go you have to get a Kwak, which is a giant glass that is held in a wooden stand. They make you pay the price (your shoe) so that you can’t steal the cup! The boot goes in a bucket that’s attached to the ceiling and a bell is rung once you get your boot back! So much fun!!!img_7385

The Best of Budapest

One of the locals said it best “everyone comes to Budapest for 3 things, booze, art and… well you can guess the last one” and he was right! I traveled to Budapest for 5 days and 4 nights which was great… but a little too long (if you have ever had Palinka you know why.) Budapest is fully of history, culture and freezing cold temperatures, but being from Oswego that didn’t stop us! In this post I want to share some travel tips and cool spots I found along the way!

To know before you go!

  • Budapest is split into two sides divided by the Danube River. Buda and Pest (pronounced peshed)
  • If you stay at the Wombat DON’T go down the street with all the Christmas lights right across from the hostel. Biggest tourist trap! The restaurants are pricy and the food is mediocre!
  • There currency is the forint so when you switch from euro to forint you get more for your euro but trust me that money goes quickly.
  • Ask the locals! For the first day my friends and I had no idea where to go or what to see, all we had was a map and our curiosity.
  • Try and do a hop on hop off bus tour. It may be cheesy but it’s the best way to see the city in the least amount of time. Plus with Budapest’s harsh winter weather that bus comes in handy just to warm up a bit.
  • Don’t take the cabs! Will charge you a lot when they know you’re not Hungarian!
  • Metro is your best friend! Its super easy and cheap and sometimes they don’t even check to see if you have bought a ticket.
  • Beware if the Palinka!

Hostel: The Wombat

  • We stayed at the wombat all 4 nights and it was great! The front desk was super nice and helpful (especially the woman from England with the red hair!) They helped us to book tickets to the baths and gave us great advice on where to eat for cheap. Best thing about the Wombat… the BAR! So much fun and great way to meet fellow travelers (plus they give you 2 free drinks at check-in). My two friends and I shared one room with a full bed and private bathroom, there was plenty of space plus we saved some money.

The Sites:

The Grand Synagogue

  • Incredibly moving if you’re Jewish or not. We did a tour of the synagogue and was one of the highlights of the trip. The tour guide was fun and funny while sharing his extensive knowledge of the Hungarian Jews and their struggle throughout the world wars.

Central Market

  • This market is filled with not only Hungarian culture but also traditional Hungarian food! My friends and I went to different stands and sampled everything we could get our hands on; chocolate, olives, dried sausage, fruit, candy, cheese! On the top floor there are different booths selling traditional Hungarian tapestries and items for tourists (pricy.) It was great for lunch plus right outside the market is a bridge leading over the river and it is beautiful at sunset.

St Stephan’s Basilica

  • Very cool cathedral! It was huge and the inside was gorgeous with old painted ceilings, old bells and children singing as you entered. I wish I did a tour here because I would have liked to learn more about it, but a site to see for sure!

Liberty Square

  • We stumbled upon this square as we were looking for the parliament building! Very nice surprise! The first thing we saw was a bronze sculpture of Ronald Regan that faced the US embassy! I was curious why it was there so I goggled it and apparently Ronald Regan helped liberate the Hungarians from the Russian rule during the First World War. We took some cool pics with old Ronny.

Parliament Building

  • Amazing! When you’re on the Pest side you can’t see how big the building really is but here you can do a tour of the building. But I suggest walking the chain bridge from the Buda to Pest at night when parliament is lit up. It is breathtaking. The parliament building costed the Hungarians so much that they could have built another city for the same price! I didn’t do a tour but I’m sure that would have been so cool!

Shoes on Danube

  • These are located right on the water next to the parliament building. There are 80 pairs on iron shoes on the wall next to the Danube that represent the Hungarians that were shot into the river during World War II. The only remains of these people were there shoes of all different sizes, from high heels, slippers, work boots and children’s slippers. A site I will never forget.

Cave Tour

  • We booked a cave tour through bus 2 alps for 30 euros. Well we had the hardest time trying to find the cave (Buda side) plus when we got there the tours were half the price we paid going through bus 2 alps. But the cave was very cool defiantly a once and a lifetime experience. **WARNING** Do not do if you are claustrophobic! At one point we were army crawling though an opening that you could not even hold your head up right through! **WARNING** do not do this if you’re hangover…. I did and it was terrible (no bathrooms in the caves.)

Buda Castle funicular

  • The funicular was like a little cart on rails that took you up to Buda castle, which gives you a view of the river and city. You have to pay to ride in it, I suggest only riding one way because the view was cool but not as great as we thought. But this is one of the oldest funiculars in Europe.

Mathis’s church + Fisherman’s bastion

  • Both sites were cool and very close to each other, which was nice. But I wish I did a tour because I didn’t really know what I was looking at! Nice buildings and views but deff try to get on a tour!

Hospital in the rock Museum

  • This museum was in a cave that originally was a hospital and safe zone for the Hungarians during the cold war and WWII. The museum was cool; it had replicas of the different rooms and the equipment they used at the time.

Szechenyi thermal baths

  • A Budapest MUST! We went at night that was cool because you saw the steam coming off of the giant hot baths! Think giant Jacuzzi with 100 of your closest friends. Make sure to bring a towel (or they charge you) and some sort of slip on shoe (walking from bath to bath on frozen concrete with no shoes is no fun.) We stayed for 4 hours and it was so relaxing!

To Eat/ Drink

Breakfast

  • Mosaic – right next to Wombat hostile, very good for a big cheap breakfast!
  • Zoo Café- SO COOL!!! It’s a café that has waiters bringing different animals to your table! I’m talking chameleons, snakes, rabbets, toucans, parrots, Guiney pigs, turtles, cats, bearded dragons and much more! I do not suggest eating here, but the ambiance was so fun.
  • Chimney cake!! You can find one of these on any corner in Budapest! It’s like a lemony churro that is shaped like a cone (or chimney) and covered in sugar and cinnamon! I had like one a day they were great!

Lunch/ Dinner

  • Langos Papa – cheap and you get a lot of food! We got Hungarian goulash, pate and a langos (think of a funnel cake with sour cream, garlic and cheese…. Interesting but worth a try!)
  • Kiado – This pub is definitely not a tourist trap! Very original Hungarian bar. Which was a little intimidating walking into. But the food was great! I got the duck and it was delish!
  • Gerbaud Café – Pricy! But absolutely amazing food! I got the sauerkraut stew and it was the best thing I had in Budapest!

Nightlife

  • We went on a bar crawl with the hostel for 15 euros with entrance to 3 bars and a club. This was fun at first, but the group split up from each other towards the end. Some highlights of this was the bar Retox! This bar made me feel as if I was in Oswego, they had drinking games (beer pong, flip cup) plus the best part the owner was from Scranton PA! He told us to call him Shmike (his Hungarian name) and he gave us some great recommendations on where to go to get the whole Hungarian experience. If you are lost and don’t know what to do, go to Retox and ask to talk to him! He literally saved us from all the tourist traps and made us feel right at home.
  • Instant club- it was very fun deff recommend!
  • **WARNING** There is a very popular Hungarian liquor called Palinka, the alcohol content goes from 40-87%!!! Deadly! Naturally I bought a bottle to bring back to the US, but be careful a couple of shots of this you’ll be seeing stars (trust me.)

Budapest was one of the best trips I have ever been on I 100% suggest making your way to the “city of baths.”img_7207

Sal y Ven or Sal y Sue?

Let’s get one thing straight. The majority of students who study abroad are young, don’t speak the language and don’t know anything about living in a foreign country. This being said, when SUNY Oswego recommended that we find housing through an agency called Sal y Ven, we blindly trusted that would be the best thing to do. Well we were wrong.

We were placed into an apartment that previously had problems with the student tenants who lived there the semester before us. Those same students had warned us that the landlord was rude and that the people living in the apartment complex gave them a hard time. We took this warning with a grain of salt; those students could have been loud and maybe didn’t speak Spanish so communication could have been hard. Again we were wrong. From the moment we moved in there were rules, no socializing in the kitchen past 11pm, no using the water past 11pm, no visitors, no noise, no mail can be received to the apartment, no locking the bedrooms etc. We accepted these rules and moved on, living as quietly and respectfully as possible. Then the complaints started. The landlord received two complaints about us; one was that we threw a party… on a weekend that the four of us were in Budapest. The second complaint was to the agency Sal y Ven that said that the people in the building were going to sue the landlord if we did not move out of the apartment.

When we were told we had to move they included that it was not our fault it was the fault of the landlord. Well if it’s not our fault then why are we the ones being punished? We signed a contract to live in the apartment until May, no one, not the landlord or Sal y Ven should break that. The agency knew that there were problems in the past with this landlord so we should never have been placed there to begin with. Don’t get me wrong, we did not want to live the way we were in that apartment, but moving after we had just settled in was a big burden.

We got over the fact we had to move and went to go see an apartment that Sal y Ven said we could move right into. They had said that this was the only available option for us if we wanted to stay together. We were shocked when we saw the place they wanted us to live. It was 1/3 of the size of our other apartment and had no kitchen. HAD NO KITCHEN! They expected us to pay the same rent and live in an apartment with no kitchen for 4 months. It was rude that they even sent us to see that apartment.

That’s when we decide to take things into our own hands. We wrote an email to all party’s involved, SUNY Oswego study abroad advisor, the director in Spain and Sal Y Ven. we explained that we felt that we were being taken advantage of and it was not fair for us to have to move. It was not our problem that the people in the apartment complex did not like our landlord and we wanted some compensation for having to leave. Sal Y Ven wrote back explaining it was not their fault and that we could go live in another apartment for one month until they could find us another place…thus moving twice in 2 months. This was the best/ only option for us so we agreed.

We never heard back from SUNY Oswego, not even after the first move just to make sure everything was okay. That was the biggest disappointment, they were supposed to be on our side and let us down.

Moral of the story, do your research, ask questions, don’t blindly go into anything especially if they have had problems in the past. Don’t trust everything the school tells you and stick up for yourself because when we finally did it was too late.

Live in Hart, Do the IST

Hello, How is your new semester going?

Today, i want to talk about the IST! If you are a resident in Hart hall, probably you heard about it.

IST is the class which you MUST take, if you want to live in Hart. If you don’t? You will be kicked out from the Hart.

As you know, Hart hall is the global residence hall. There are many international students from lots of countries. I worked as an international Orientation Leader last month and there were about 60 new international students in this spring semester. (In the fall, usually there are more than 100 new international students in SUNY Oswego!)

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Thus, it is essential to understand diversity. IST is the program that helps to learn cultures of other countries with a credit. To take a credit, you have to handle 6 essays and 10 hours of community hours until the end of semester. For 6 essays, you can participate many kinds of discussion programs, presentation programs, and documentary programs. For the community hours, 10 hours of participation at the both on-campus and off-campus activities are required.

It sounds difficult to do, but it is not. The average grade of the class is A. There are many interesting programs signed up for this course, so you just need to go, listen and write an one-page essay. Even though you are not living in Hart, still you can attend the program.

Do you want to know what kinds of programs there are? Here is the IST calendar!

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https://acquia-prod.oswego.edu/hart-hall-global/ist-events-calendar

Broken Abroad

After about two weeks of painfully walking around beautiful Sydney, I decided it was time to get a ct scan. And well it’s official, I fractured my heel.

I’ve been making the most out of this series of unfortunate events, however. This past weekend, CAPA rallied up the students to feed happy kangaroos and pet a furry koala at the Featherdale Wildlife Park. I’m so glad I decided to go rather than stay in my room sulking; feeding that roo was the coolest thing I’ve ever done. Afterwards our group was carted over to The Blue Mountains to see the iconic Three Sisters. I wasn’t able to hike the trails but I was able to appreciate the amazing views from lookouts and the railway cars. I am grateful CAPA has been so accommodating and comforting in this overwhelming time.

I am trying to be as positive as I can be while paired up with crutches and a boot. It’s hard, especially since I’ve been to the doctors more than I’ve been to the beach. BUT the sunshine brings me comfort and the salty air clears my mind. Only three more weeks with my hardware and then I’m a free woman!

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G’Day Mate

After 20+ hours on a tightly squeezed airplane, I lug my suitcases in the 96 degree heat to the taxi van. With a sigh of relief I can’t help but squeal, “I made it,” to the taxi driver.

CAPA had our next few days planned out for us; between scavenger hunts, field trips and jet lag it’s safe to say I was a zombie by the third day. It was hard to find the energy to be social and hold conversations with my classmates. That was until I finally had a long nights rest and I began to feel like myself again.

On Saturday, the 21st, I had a free day since my internship, at DEC Public Relations, wasn’t scheduled to begin until Tuesday. So, a few of my roommates and I ventured to the infamous Bondi Beach. We soaked up the Aussie sun and made sure to avoid the Blue Bottle jellyfish in the cobalt water. I was a little too adventurous that day and hurt my foot while exploring the Bondi Cliffs. Although the view from the walk was worth it, it was very hard the next day feeling immobile in such a beautiful country. I trekked to the General Practitioner and had to get an X-ray to reassure me (and my mom on the other side of the globe) that there wasn’t a serious injury. Thankfully, nothing was fractured, especially since walking is our main source of transportation in Sydney. I am still healing but I hope to be fully recovered this week.

Tuesday I was introduced to the office culture in the Central Business District at DEC PR. The streets in CBD are full of beautiful men and women dressed to impress. I thoroughly enjoy commuting to work and being apart of a “team.” I have already learned so much in the two days I’ve worked at DEC and I am so excited to see what the next 12 weeks brings.

It is nice to start being placed into a routine again. I am grateful my days are so busy because I feel as though I am making the most of every day I have here. Yes, I do miss home but I know I will see everyone in just a few short weeks. Therefore I plan on seeing everything and anything I can before I head to the Sydney Airport at the end of April. I am grateful for this spectacular opportunity and I’m excited to share my experiences with you. Thanks for tuning in.fullsizer-1 fullsizer-2 fullsizer img_2768 img_2772 img_2778 img_2787 img_2802

The fun part!

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This is the surreal moment where an opportunity of a lifetime becomes reality. At this moment, it finally sinks in and I begin to get butterflies of excitement.  This is the point in the process where I kept saying to myself, I can’t believe I’m doing this!  Hold on and cherish this feeling of elation because when it hits you simultaneously, it is a feeling like no other. Well believe it because it hits you all at once, in the best of ways. Here are some more important things to be aware of before/ during your first weeks abroad!

Flights

  • You have to book your flight independently from the school. They do not give you much guidance with this part. So I booked it once the program dates were finalized. So for me, orientation for the program is January 7th so I’m flying out on the 4, arriving  the 5th but classes start the 16th. So I have some time to get settled in before school starts. Sky scanner and student universe are good websites to look on for cheaper flights!

Packing

  • Everyone says not to bring nice things in case you lose them or they get ruined. Everyone says pack as light as possible. Everyone says bring old clothing to throw away to make room for the new stuff you will get. Well of course I’m not following any of that advice. I currently have 2 packed suitcases of only clothing lol. I’m lucky enough to have a big closet to keep my clothing in, but the style in Spain is so much different (better) that I have already been shopping twice…. Which is probably not the best great way to be spending my money, but oh well. The problem that I will probably face coming back to the states is that I will have to pay because my luggage will be over 50 pounds, but that’s a problem for another post.
  • I got 2 suitcases from Kohl’s (lightest ones they have 6 pounds) on sale for $65 each, which is a great deal. I have also brought a hiking backpack, which just screams I’m a tourist lol. But it’s the best way to be able to travel while keeping your things safe.

Money

  • This is important. If you have a debit card you will be charged every time you take out money or use your card. But don’t worry; almost every national bank has some kind of card that has no foreign transaction fees. I will be using the capital one 360 card which works as a debit card abroad. Another option is a credit card either linked to your account or to your parents account. Personally, I don’t trust myself not to rack up the credit card bill so I opted for a debit card. I found that a lot of smaller credit unions don’t have a card option for international travel so having a big bank is super helpful.

** Be aware of the amount of money you spend, 1 week in I spent almost 700$, so sit down with a glass of wine and look at your card statements! It’s brutal but write out how much you spent, I had to learn the hard way and guilt myself into saving money.

Phones

  • A lot of international communication can be done through Wi-Fi with apps like WhatAapp or Viber in addition to iMessage. But this only allows you to communicate when you’re connected to Wi-Fi and your phone company will charge you if you use the Internet when your not connected( Data-Roaming). I found that lots of restaurants and buses all have Wi-Fi so I haven’t ran into any problems yet without a data plan (fingers crossed.)
  • You can look into an international SIM card, here in Madrid “Orange” phone company gives you 2 GB of data and calls for 15$ a month, which might be worth it in the long run (in case you get lost or lose people.)
  • Then your family can get an international plan, but I know these can get pricey.

*** Be so careful carrying your phones around especially at bars and clubs. Pickpocketing is extremely common here.People look for foreigners and will try and steal their phones if they are not put away (happened to my friend twice!!!)

Housing

  • This all depends on where you are living (country) and then what type of living situation you want (on campus, independent apartment or host family.) Personally, I will be living in an apartment, which is close to everything, which is very convenient! I’m sharing a room so ill be paying 420 euros a month but a single room is 500 euros, everything included.
  • I am located on Calle O’Donnell, which In Madrid, SUNY Oswego put is through a company called Sal y Ven, which finds us housing and also deals with the landlord for us. This is convenient in the sense that they find us great places to stay and its only one price, but as we begin to settle into the apartment we are beginning to see some problems with the company… For example we can never contact the landlord, in order to get something fixed, we have to email Sal y Ven, wait for them to email the landlord and get to get a response. This is good if the people in the apartment don’t speak Spanish. But being that my roommate and I speak Spanish, it is more time efficient if we would be able to call and communicate with the landlord directly. Also, apparently there are no visitors allowed, and if you want to have a guest stay with you, they have to pay Sal y Ven 15 euros per night. I haven’t ran into a problem with this yet because I haven’t had my friends stay the night yet, but we will see if I can get away with not notifying them. Last thing, I am living in a 4-bedroom apartment with only 4 people, so Sal y Ven apparently can rent out that extra bedroom. So I was informed today that 2 people are suppose to be moving in… tomorrow. You can see the concern not only do we not want to live with strangers but we only found out this was happening today. Clearly communication is an issue.

*** These things should NOT be a deal breakers, just situations to be aware of to avoid any future surprises.

Travel

  • Most people who study abroad in Europe want to travel as much as possible, and with crazy cheap airfare prices you can! I made a list of all the cities I definitely want to go to, but some are pricier than others, though all are cheap compared to US flights. Instead of spending a lot of money for one city, my friends and I are starting to travel to the cheapest places from Madrid (Paris, Brussels, Ireland, Lisbon) and then plan bigger trips. For example I planned flight to Brussels for 50 euros roundtrip!
  • There are some really great websites to help you with trips, Ryanair, SkyScanner, Bus2alps, Wanderlust and City Life. My school (University Rey Juan Carlos) has a Citylife program all around Spain, Portugal and Morocco that are discounted prices and day trips.
  • SUNY Oswego also has a great class in Madrid that every student going through Oswego has to take. The class is made up of excursions around Madrid and outside city’s, for example, one weekend we go flamenco dancing and to Toledo. Then at the end we have to write an essay for a grade, easy fun class.

Metro

  • Everyone takes public transportation around the city. The metro comes every 10 mins or so and the bus does the same! Its very accessible and not sketchy at all!
  • To get a metro card, make a cita previa (previous appointment) online at http://tarjetatransportepublico.es/CRTM-ABONOS/entrada.aspx . There are so many metros you can get this at, but the one I went to (Avenue America) no one spoke English! So if you don’t speak Spanish it would be difficult.
  • Then you put euros in the kiosk and load it for the month!

Study supplement example

*** PSA: This is what I submitted for scholarships and for the application. Obviously yours would be different but this can be used as an example!***

As a double-major in Public Relations and Spanish at the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Oswego, I have been able to gain an understanding of both subjects that has allowed me to become more passionate toward each. However, in order to further enhance my education and gain new learning experiences, I wish to study abroad in Spain for this upcoming Spring semester. I believe that this experience will not only increase my confidence when it comes to using the Spanish language on a daily basis, but it will also open my life to new cultures and captivities that will positively affect my efforts in the field of public relations. Along with the academic benefits, the study abroad experience will allow me to gain personal advantages such as intercultural communication skill-building and achieving a higher level of independence.

Academically I have done well in my Spanish classes here in the United States. However, I have always felt that in order for me to truly appreciate and grasp the language, I must spend a significant amount of time in a country that speaks it. I do not have any doubts that spending a semester in Spain will increase my competency in the Spanish language and progress my ability to speak, write, and read in confidence. Along with the advances studying abroad will provide me with for my Spanish major, it will also contribute to my Public Relations major. Public Relations requires a great deal of creativity and the ability to create and maintain relationships with a wide variety of stakeholders. By experiencing and learning about new cultures, I will be able to understand how to work with diverse clients, co-workers, and medias.

Living in a foreign country on my own will also increase my level of independence. I have a desire to travel and see the world and although it may be intimidating at times, I know that studying abroad will only make me grow as an individual. When I return from Spain, I expect that I will be able to live and work anywhere in the world without being fearful. It may be cliché, but i have learned too well that life is short. I need to take advantages of these opportunities while they are still available to me.

Studying abroad will not only provide me with new learning experiences, but it will also give me the chance to become a more independent and self-aware individual. I believe that spending time in Spain will benefit me both academically and personally. Some my future goals will benefit greatly from the study abroad experience provided by Oswego. I hope to become fluent in Spanish, allowing me to become successful when pursuing a career in Public Relations with a focus in tourism. I plan on moving to New York City immediately following graduation. I hope to work for an international company with the focus on bringing people from their homes to see the sights of New York City.

I hope this personal statement has given some insight to my life and goals and prove why the study abroad experience is essential to my future success. Thank you.

***Cough Cough…You’re welcome!***

First things first

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Let’s face it, living in a new country where you don’t know anyone or speak the language is scary in general! But added on top of the intimidating application process and the physical (don’t forget mental) preparation can easily overwhelm students, causing them to miss out on an opportunity of a life time. That is the inspiration for this post; I’m going to break down every part of the “preparation” stage that the school doesn’t straight out tell you and that I wish I knew!

***FYI, I am studying in Madrid, Spain for a whole semester and living in an apartment. So if you’re program is different, some of the elements of the application process will be different from mine.

Application process: Not going to lie the application process is super confusing and stressful at first. Juggling schoolwork along with all the deadlines for the applications is a lot…. but worth it.

  1. The first step you should take is to look online at SUNY Oswego’s study abroad page; there it lists all the programs that are available (https://www.oswego.edu/international/program-search.) You should start this process at least one semester before you want to leave! Keep in mind, if there is something you’re interested in and don’t see, SUNY Oswego works with all SUNY schools and odds are another school has it. For example, I am going to Madrid, Spain, which is through SUNY Oswego, but there are people from New Paltz, Cortland and Albany on the same trip as I am. If you’re interested in another SUNY schools program, the credits transfer over to Oswego without any problems. ***One problem my friend ran into was that she was a transfer student from Cortland (2 years) to Binghamton, and wanted to study abroad with me through SUNY Oswegos’s program. Well, because Bing has a cap on how many credits a student can transfer from another school, the 15 credits that she would get from study abroad with Oswego would not count for her…. Just something to pay attention too before getting too far into the process.

  2. Next, when you find a program that you like you can click “apply now” and an online application would be set up for you. On this application it requires you to attach your official transcript (ordered online $10), 2 academic letters of recommendation, a study statement (see Study Supplement Example), and a language proficiency exam (only important if you are going to study a language.) Oswego has an online program that you can sign into which shows you all the forms you need… but I had no idea how that worked until I met with my study abroad advisor (Lizette Alvarado.) I suggest making an appointment with the international  office ASAP when you know where or when you would like to go.

  3. After you have submitted the application and have been accepted, the online program attaches more paperwork onto the online application that you have to submit. For example a $250 deposit, copy of your passport, 2 passport size pics (for visa, $30 from post office), $160 Visa application, housing form, health forms, learning agreement (class selection.. see “The Fun Part!” post for more info), and a financial aid form. You have a good amount of time to get these things in order and submitted, but the sooner the better. You will see the online application program is very organized with what has been submitted or still needs to be. The study abroad office also sends out automatic emails telling you the things missing (which was a life saver for me!) I also included as many prices as I could remember only because I felt like I had no idea how many things I had to pay for right out of my pocket… and seeing as I’m living off of pasta and eggs each cost hit me hard. Each check that will be submitted to the international office has to be a certified check or money order (Culkin can do this and the Oswego post office too.) Your study abroad advisor will apply for your student visa (required for a semester study abroad), which you will receive in the mail with your passport before you leave.

***TBH I submitted all these things the week of the deadline and was fine… don’t stress too much!

Financial aid (https://www.oswego.edu/financial-aid/): Obviously this depends on everyone’s individual loans or whatnot….but what I didn’t know is that if you have the parent plus loan, you can bring the study abroad budget sheet (online) to the office and they can increase your loan. So that’s exactly what I did and they increased it  to the amount that the budget sheet suggest that you bring (which is way more than you need.) This comes back to you in a refund right before you go. For me this was super helpful for rent and also to have extra spending money… you know for emergencies 😉

*** I talked to Jennie Hoffman and she is super nice and SOOOO helpful!

Scholarships: Oswego has a lot of study abroad specific scholarships. You can apply online and it attaches to your study abroad application (https://www.oswego.edu/international/scholarships). I applied for 5 and was awarded 0 (lol just my luck.) But I recently found out that I was awarded the GETGO scholarship, which gave me $1,500!! That money is taken right off the bill for the semester, so when I get my refund back I have an extra $1,500 for necessity like shopping 😉 The GETGO scholarship paperwork is in the language department and it just requires you to put how long your studying for (quarter, semester, summer) along with your acceptance letter (also attached to the online application program) then a small written statement and an option to attach a letter of recommendation. Then I was emailed with an invoice for the cost of the semester abroad with that GETGO scholarship taken off of the total. Nice end of the semester surprise!

*** I used the same study statement that I applied for the program with for the scholarships… keep in mind I only received one though, so you might want to switch it up a bit!

This seems like a lot… and honestly it is, but this is the worst part! Everything after this process is a lot more fun! See my follow-up post “The Fun Part” for more information for what comes next!

Australia Bound

After a nice meal and a few tears, my family sent me off to the security checkpoint. My heart is pounding out of my chest. The day has finally come; I will soon be boarding my plane to Australia.

Hello everyone, I’m Lydia and I will be studying and interning through CAPA, The Global Education Network, in Sydney. I am filled with excitement and prepared for the unknown. Yes, living in a foreign country for five months may seem daunting. However, in order to grow as an individual, one must be pushed out of their comfort zone. The next post you read will be posted from the “Land Down Under.” See you soon America, you will be missed!

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