Thursday, February 15, 2018

Blog 1

Abbey Coleman
London summer 2018

I have wanted to go to London for years, and this course seemed like the perfect opportunity to go. They Psychology of Murder seems like the perfect combination of my majors: psychology and criminal justice. I want to learn and grow in another culture and use this trip as a way to grow and mature as an individual.
I am incredibly excited, but I'm also scared that everything will line up and be good to go and then something will happen that keeps me from being able to go.
I want to go out as much as possible, whenever there's free time, I want to be out and being in the culture doing things. I also want to play pick up soccer a lot and learn more about a different style of play. Additionally, I hope that at the end of my trip I am able to fly into Ireland and stay with my teammate Lisa and get to see another culture.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Blog 1: Goals

Goals and personal agenda:
     I have many goals and aspirations ragarding this trip.  In the Army I traveled extensively both in the states as well as to many foreign countries, but never for strictly educational purposes.  My goals for this trip are to become conversationally fluent in Spanish, while also educating myself culturally.  My end goal is to complete the necessary classes I need to finalize my graduation.  I also hope to take a photography class for an elective, so I can immerse myself in the landscape of Costa Rica while learning to capture the memories of my trips through photography.  I feel that this will allow me to see some of the less tourist prone locations of the country.  Upon leaving I plan to take trains/buses from Costa Rica north traveling to Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and Mexico.

Feelings about impending journey:

     I am very excited to travel to Costa Rica.  I am very eager to get there and begin discovering what the country holds for me.  I am nervous about my skill level in Spanish not being fluent enough to make basic conversation, but at the same time that drives me to prepare before leaving.  I am a well experienced traveler, especially to countries in which I have never visited before, so rather than "fear" I am experiencing impatience and excitement.  I am pretty anxious to see what the home stay will be like, this will be completely new to me as I usually plan my own lodging.  I think it will be very interesting to stay with a local family and I feel like this will ultimately help improve my Spanish by fully immersing myself in the culture.

3 things to maximize my experience:

     I have so many things I plan to do on this abroad trip!  I am very excited to take a cultural photography class!  I feel that doing this will not only let me experience the hidden gems of the country, but it will also let me document my travels as best as possible.  I am also planning to take part in as many excursions as possible, either with a group or on my own.  I want to travel to the rain forest and spend some time hiking and exploring the nature of the country.  I also plan to attempt backpacking my way back to the United States from Costa Rica and have begun mapping my travels.  Traveling is my passion and if I can find a way to travel back to the states while seeing 5 more countries I will do everything I can to make that happen.

South Africa Service Abroad

During the course of this service abroad trip, I am wanting to gain practical experience in business-analytics-related information management. As mentioned on ISA’s site, this opportunity in Cape Town has open position working on IT related tasks at their civil rights non-profit. Along with gaining practical experience in this field, I fully intend on experiencing the culture of South Africa. This includes hiking the nearby area and getting a feel for the local geography (Table Mountain, etc), as well as seeing famous destinations in the province.
I am very excited for this trip, however, I am also somewhat nervous. The aspect of traveling doesn’t bother me. However, the extreme water shortage in Cape Town does. With a high potential for civil unrest in this part of the country, I am wondering if a Mad Max situation could occur over the local water supply (haha). Despite this, I still fully intend on going.
I intend on 1) Getting to know my colleagues who are locals, 2) Getting their advice on cool activities to do in Cape Town,  and 3) Taking their advice. Indeed, the only way to live like a local is to get advice from one. 

New Zealand Internship: Thoughts on the Impending Journey

Goals, Thoughts, and Maximizing the Experience

This summer, I will be spending 2 months in New Zealand for an Outdoor Education internship. While I have yet to be placed at a specific site, I do have some goals I would like to achieve through my summer abroad as well as some other thoughts and ideas about the trip.

I currently work in the Outdoor Education field and am majoring in Outdoor Studies and Tourism. I have spent the past 3 summers working at various camps, and I hope to spend the rest of my life taking groups outside to help them learn more about themselves and each other. I want to enhance the skills I have already begun to form in my field. Going abroad will hopefully help me hone my people skills as I work with an entirely new population of people than I typically interact with. I also have high hopes that traveling abroad will help me learn to be an even more flexible person. My final goal for this coming summer is to learn to surf.

As my departure date gets closer, I am steadily getting more nervous. Most of my nerves have to do with the expensive price tag on this trip. While I am putting every penny I make into my New Zealand fund as well as selling embroideries and other items and applying for scholarships, it is a nerve-wracking experience to look at a price that is at least 5 times what I have in my bank account. I do, however, believe that I will be able to make it with donations, grants and scholarships, and my continual efforts to work as much as I can. In addition to worries, I am very excited. I have wanted to go to New Zealand ever since I learned as a child that the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed there. I have wanted to go there even more when I realized how great the Outdoor Ed. and Recreation fields are in the country and how many opportunities there are.

Many people talk about "maximizing your experience" when they talk about studying abroad. I think this is a valuable point to bring up. I can see how it would be easy to get caught up in the details before my trip and then focus solely on the full time job I will have when I am abroad. I want to avoid doing those things. I hope that by blogging about my experience along the way, I can help myself to stop and think about everything as I get closer and closer to my departure. Once I am in New Zealand, I plan on spending as much free time as possible exploring the country and spending time with locals. I hope to build strong relationships with my co-workers and whoever I will be living with and around. I want to get the experience of living in New Zealand rather than visiting New Zealand.

I hope that you will continue to follow along as I blog about my process of preparing for New Zealand. If you feel so inclined as to help me worry less about the financial side of study abroad, feel free to donate to my GoFundMe!


Blog 1: Goals

What I Hope to Gain from This Experience:
The trip is a sort of pilgrimage for me in the sense that Italy is one of the most culturally and historically rich places in Europe, and Florence in particular is a huge artistic and historical center. Of almost any other city in Europe, I think it is most important for me to visit here as many of my passions (art, architecture, history, food, and wine) all sort of converge in this gorgeous city. I hope to take in as much wine and Italian dishes as my stomach can handle and to visit as many museums and historical cites (which is basically the whole city) as time will allow. Also, plan to use my intern experience to fulfill my SPE requirement as well as the Intercultural Dynamics core requirement.
Maximizing My Experience:
I want to learn more about Renaissance history and Italian culture (a very broad, all encompassing category I realize) while I am abroad, as I have a general but shallow knowledge of both. Also, I want to learn as much Italian as possible both before I leave and when I get there so that I can have the best experience abroad as possible (which will depend on how well I am able to interact with my environment and its people)
Fear and Excitement:

I am afraid I will feel uncomfortable at first if I don’t get a good handle on the language, but that’s only a secondary fear as I have been in that position before (three years ago when I visited Germany without having a very extensive German vocabulary). I am most afraid of being sick during the trip and missing many potential experiences and doing poorly in my classes. However, the overwhelming, euphoric excitement for the experience far outweighs any negative feelings I may have.

Blog Post 1 - Goals

So I begin to plan for what I want my next year to be like. My plan is to spend next year (365 days) spending 4 months split between three countries: Argentina, the United States, and Japan. I'm including the United States because I'll return for a four month break where I readjust just to have to switch cultures again. While abroad I want to accomplish three goals. One, become a more fluent speaker of Spanish and Japanese. This is why I want to travel to countries where the languages are spoken natively, so I interact with people who grew up speaking them and gain a more natural understanding. Secondly, I want to understand the history and culture more directly. I want to travel to the countries to visit places I've heard so much about and experience the culture firsthand. I can also gain a much broader understanding of different political climates and different customs by living abroad. Finally, I want to see if I want to focus on other cultures, languages, and geographies as a career or if Software Engineering is still the route I want to take. I am excited the different experiences I will encounter, but I am a bit anxious because of the language barrier and the culture shock, but I believe I will adjust in time. To maximize my experience, I will try to socialize with the school as much as possible, travel when I can, and challenge myself often. My doing so, I surely will be able to experience each country as fully as possible.

To Italy and Beyond!: Preparing for my First Overseas Experience

In November I came across an advertisement in MC Today about a chance to study abroad in Italy.  I've always had an interest in Italy with its architecture, natural beauty, and its presence in world history.  This was a change for me as I didn't think I would have a chance and the first time I really considered going abroad.  My intuition said "Go for it!" so I went ahead and took that leap.

While I am in Italy I will be adding pages to my story regardless of what happens.  First and foremost I want to capture memories.  Exploring the city of Florence and the Tuscan Region will allow me to truly begin to see the world for myself.  Although domestic adventures are exciting, I can't say for sure if that completely fulfills me with a sense of joy and accomplishment.  Crossing oceans breaks a barrier and takes courage. 

For 2018 to keep me focused on whatever goal I choose, I decided to keep a word and Bible verse of the year.  I chose this year's word to be "confidence" and the corresponding verses to be Psalm 27:13-14.  I choose to be confident that I can break out of my shell and move forward without hesitation.  Through this experience I want to see new perspectives through my own lens and take further steps to becoming an independent and confident human.

This will also be the first time I will attend a school focused on the arts.  This will be a transition as I am a STEM Major who doesn't have the time to explore much beyond the major and core curriculum.  Through this experience I want to create art through visual design or a healthy lifestyle, whichever class I end up enrolled in.

I am excited for the sunsets, sunrises, and watching history come to life.  As an Assassin's Creed fan, I'm interested to see for myself how accurate Florence is represented from a design standpoint.  I'm anxious for airplanes and navigating airports.  The questions rolling through my head go along the lines of "What do I do if I can't figure out where I am going?"  "What if I somehow miss my flight or misinterpret signs?" "Claiming and transferring baggage?"  These thoughts overwhelm me yet are essential in a successful travel experience.  I feel relieved that Florence is relatively safe.  I'm nervous, in contrast, about the potential of pickpockets as I have a tendency to zone out often.  I know I must be more alert, but not come off as paranoid.  As a person with deadly food allergies, I am also nervous about not triggering an allergic reaction.  I'm excited to spend three weeks away from the life I know.  Lastly, I feel ready to cross the ocean to feel that sense of accomplishment.  The unknown is intriguing.  The only way to know what it is like is to experience it yourself.

To maximize my experience, I do not want to stay in the city of Florence.  I want to explore the countryside and the coast.  A former teacher and coach recommended that I visit Cinque Terre, and after seeing pictures, it affirmed my desire to see such site.  The second way I want to maximize my experience is to meet people with backgrounds different than mine.  The way I see it is that if you want to explore, you need to understand and feel compassion for those you meet.  In the United States where most of us are more or less the same, it's much more difficult to truly become aware of one's background.  Abroad, their background surrounds you.  Lastly, to maximize my experience, I want to connect with the city I will call home for three weeks.  I want to attend local events, learn its history and experience, and connect with the city's people.  Immersing yourself is the best way introduction, showing that you're eager to learn, grow, adapt, and acquaint.

Through my passions, this trip will bring me one step closer to that well-rounded mind I want to have for myself.  Everyone has a story, so make yours significant.