Lessons from My Fellow International Students

One of the great aspects of studying in the United Kingdom is that there are so many international students. Some of them are studying on exchange, while others do their whole degree here. Either way it affords me the opportunity to meet people from all sorts of different countries.

Two of the amazing people I’ve become friends with are from Denmark. They have taught me a lot about their home country. Something I found quite interesting was the fact that the east side of Denmark, around Copenhagen, and the west side of Denmark have a friendly rivalry.

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My Solo Trip through Central Eastern Europe

Greetings from Hungary, everybody!

These past few weeks have been some of the best days out here on my journey. To start, I have been getting closer with my friends from the program.

To highlight a few of them, I will start with my friend Batu, from Turkey. He is here studying engineering in his third year of college. He never learned English in school; he is actually self taught in it. He has learned a good amount of phrases but struggles a lot speaking with those who have studied it and with me who has practiced it all throughout my life. Although we have a language barrier we have become close tight knit friends.

We have broken down the walls between us to share personal stories about who we are, where we come from and what we aspire to in life. We now call each other “best friends” which I really believe, because we have earned each other’s trust.

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The Camaraderie I’ve Found Abroad

Many things have come to mind as I’ve considered the differences between traveling and going to school in Europe, versus back home in the United States. What I have found to be one of the best parts is the sense of community you find when you meet other international students or like-minded travelers. Something about the shared experience of being in another country brings people together in a humbling way.

At my university in Prague, I take classes with students from so many different backgrounds. I have flatmates from France. I have classmates from Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Korea, Germany, Ireland, Croatia, Turkey, India, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, to name a few. The class discussions are fascinating to me because there are so many more opinions and interpretations that come from having such a culturally diverse representation of students.

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Back from Hong Kong, Feeling Like a Changed Person

It’s been a week since I’ve returned and wow are things different.

In these few lines of my last blog post, I would like to talk about how study abroad affected me as well as tell you a little more about Hong Kong. If you are thinking about studying abroad in Hong Kong or would just like to learn a lot more about it, I’d also want this to be your best resource.

First, here’s Hong Kong through my eyes.

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Practicing My Faith While Abroad

Today I rejoice in the first homily in Mexico that I could actually understand — it was about love being more important than power — and the first two Bible readings I was able to recognize during Mass. It was a neat outdoor church with a roof — una iglesia abierta, I was told — and we attributed the clarity of the priest’s voice to the absence of walls. It was a nice change from the other churches, whose roaring fans and echoes from the microphone were a recipe for frustration and not registering anything the priests or speakers had to say.

Before my trip, I had in my mind a specific pattern of practicing my religion while in Mexico. I would attend a Catholic university, so I would go to Mass everyday before class and I would check the Adoration and Confession schedules to try to make it to each at least once. Since Mexican towns have churches like a centipede has legs, I would have no problem finding Mass on Sunday, and my host family would take me.

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Some Reflections After Two Months in Madagascar

In less than two weeks, I’ll board a plane, spend a lot of hours in the air and arrive home in California. It’s strange to think about returning to the U.S. It’s my home country, yet it’s such a different world from here.

I believe that once you have an experience where you learn and grow and stretch yourself, you can never go back to being exactly the person you were before.

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The Discovery of Meaningful Living through Cena, Antoni Gaudí

I had a melting pot of emotions before going international — this was my first time going abroad and “flying solo” (literally). I had no idea what to expect. All I had brought with me was a suitcase of comforts to remind me of home and the adequate ability to speak Spanish.

I was a bit uneasy and anxious at the thought of beginning this journey alone. However, as I touched down in BCN, all that fear had vanished.

I’ve been living in Barcelona for about a week and already I’ve been humbled by the culture that embraces me with hospitality, kindness and simplicity. If I’m keeping count of the number of touristic activities that served to educate me on the beautiful, unique qualities of Spanish culture, it is of considerable worth. Yet, as I truly reflect on processing the value hidden behind these excursions and my personal interactions with the natives of Barcelona, it carries even more significance.

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Basketball, Construction and Volunteer Life in Madagascar

Five weeks down, five to go!

While my first two weeks in Madagascar actually felt like two weeks, the next three weeks passed so quickly that I can’t believe I’m already halfway done with my time here. Since I’m here for 10 weeks total, I have the unique opportunity to watch many different sets of volunteers come and go. It’s been wonderful to meet and get to know people from all over the world, but it also means that most of them will leave long before I do. It’s really nice to have friends who are here for a longer period of time like I am, but I enjoy getting to know everyone no matter how long their stay is.

A lot has happened in the past few weeks, but here are some highlights.

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