Category Archives: Student Life

Halloween in Italy, a time for innovation

The weather is getting a bit chillier and the yearning to gut a pumpkin lingers in the air. It’s obviously time to dress as something scary or scandalous and eat a ton of sugar. Students studying abroad may be nervous that their Halloween traditions may be in danger. Fear not, the Celtic holiday is in full force in abroad cities with large American student populations. Because why would we sit this one out? Halloween is dope. Here’s what you have to look forward to.

  • Food

The best part of any holiday is the food and Halloween is particularly fun to dress up your drinks and snacks. So, get in the spookiest mood possible by making yourself a Bloody Rum Punch or a Corpse Survivor!

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  • Costumes

You’re gonna have to roll up your sleeves and DIY your costume this year so use the God-given gift of Google to lend a helping hand. There won’t be a plethora of discount costume stores like in America. You’re going to have to really want to be a hot zombie or a scantly clad school girl this year. These will be exciting times and can show just how creative your new friends can be.

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Although Halloween isn’t an Italian holiday, let’s face it, you’re surrounded by Americans and you won’t look like a freak if you go out to the bar in a costume that night. If you’ll be traveling during Halloween, make sure to  dress in theme like a Greek god for a Greece Long Weekend.

  • Walking tours

Get creeped out by your abroad city. It’ll be awesome to sign up for a haunted tour of Florence to explore ancient prisons, ghost stories and spooky allies in your home abroad.ancient prisons, medieval ghosts. Or how about hearing of the less romantic side of Roma? Less amore and accordion playing and and more-so sinister executions.

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And so, your Halloween celebration won’t necessarily be handed to you like candy this year. It’s all about having fun with fellow spooky fans and make your own fun. Have a DIY costume contest with your friends and brew some dangerously delicious concoctions. Whatever you do, don’t be a quitter, have a blast!

Time to hit the books! Exams! Exams! Exams!

By Julie Brierley

Okay boys and girls, as you all know exams are coming up and we need to start thinking about…. studying! I know it’s the last thing we want to think about while studying abroad but it is now October and that means time for midterms.  Yes, we are still having a great time studying abroad in our city of choice but for now we need to kick into gear and start thinking about making a studying schedule and finally getting some rest.

Here some tips that will be helpful in preparing for your exams:

1. The most important thing to remember is to go to bed at a decent time!  I know it is tempting to go to the bars and clubs with your friends, but when you are sleep deprived the day of your exams it won’t be a pretty picture and will not result with a good grade.

2. Keep your body well fed and alert. Make sure you have a hearty dinner to keep your mind off of your stomach and on your studies the night before the exam and have a heathy breakfast the day of your exam. Try to avoid junk food, soda and alcohol for a few days before the exams since they will take a physical and mental toll on your body.

3. Divide and conquer! Most students are either taking four or five courses while studying abroad. To ensure that each course gets the right amount of attention to receive a good grade organize your week so that you can spend a couple of hours here and there studying for each subject.

4. Start a study group with your classmates and friends. Having a group study motivates you to get your work done and they can support you if you’re having trouble in a specific subject.

5. Use your student resources to your advantage. Every school has a student library or course resources that are there for you to explore.

6. Take a breath of fresh air. Sometimes taking a walk outside is the best cure to get your mind off of all the stress that comes along with midterms and finals. Listen to your favorite music, the sounds of nature, or the buzz of the city and get yourself in the right mind set.

7. Celebrate once you’re done! Treat yourself to a Spritz, a glass of wine, a beer, or a nice dinner out with your friends.

Good luck and have fun!

Julie Brierley is currently interning with Bus2alps during her Fall semester abroad at AIFS Richmond.  Back in the States she attends University of Rhode Island and will be graduating in Spring 2014 with a degree in International Business.

Your Next International Adventure? Teaching English Abroad

Your Next International Adventure?  Teaching English Abroad.

  • Do you love international travel and visiting new countries?
  • Would you like to get paid to live in Italy, Thailand or Costa Rica?
  • Do you want to boost your resume and gain new skills?

If you’re looking for your next international adventure, you might want to consider teaching English abroad.  Here are 9 reasons why:

1.     Get paid to live in a foreign country

If you love traveling or you’ve had a great experience studying abroad, then teaching English abroad will probably be right up your alley. As a professional English teacher, you actually get paid a good income to live and teach English in a foreign country, whether it be Spain, Thailand, Argentina or any of 100 other countries.  While it does require start-up costs (usually $1500 – $3000 to cover TEFL certification, travel costs, and supporting yourself until you receive your first paycheck), teaching English abroad is a far more cost-effective way to engage in long-term international living and travel.

In Europe and Latin America, most first-time English teachers make enough income to support themselves, cover their basic expenses (rent, groceries, utilities, etc.) and have a little in the way of going out on the town a couple of times a week and traveling on the weekends.

Those looking to earn extra income should consider English teaching opportunities in Asia and the Middle East.  In countries like China, Japan, South Korea and Thailand, most first-time English teachers make enough to save $400- $1,000 a month after expenses and often receive benefits like free housing, airfare, health insurance and paid vacation.

9-2012-Photo-Contest-Alicia-Cesaro-Graduation-Day2.  Experience a foreign country as a local

When you teach English abroad, you don’t experience a foreign country as a tourist from the vantage point of a tour bus, a cruise ship, or even a hostel – you truly immerse yourself in the country as a member of the local community.  You will likely live in a typical apartment in a middle class neighborhood, shop in local markets and enjoy meeting friends in local cafes and bars. As an English teacher, you will meet, interact and become friends with members of the local community from all walks of life.

3.  Gain international work experience for your resume

Want your resume to stand out?  In the globalized economy of the 21st century where goods, investments and communications cross international borders at ever increasing speeds, employers in nearly all sectors seek to hire those with international work experience.  In addition, moving abroad to teach English will prove your initiative, your willingness to take on challenges outside of your comfort zone, and your ability to adapt to new environment.

4.  Enhance your prospects for getting into a great graduate school

From law schools to the MBA programs, top graduate programs and professional schools in nearly every discipline now encourage applicants to gain “real world experience” working and engaging in the world outside of the ivory towers of academia.  Teaching English provides exactly this sort of experience and will also provide for a great conversation starter in interviews (and parties!) that will set you apart as somebody who is unique and interesting.

5.  Fantastic international travel opportunities

It may be obvious to point out that when you teach English abroad and live in a foreign country, you’ll be engaging in international travel, but think of it this way: if you are living in Dallas, St. Louis or Philadelphia, how likely is it that you can take the weekend to enjoy a train ride through Europe or spend your long weekends scuba diving in Thailand?  Not at all, but if you are teaching English in Madrid, Florence or Bangkok, these sorts of opportunities are routine, convenient and affordable.  Furthermore, since you will be paid as an English teacher abroad, you will be able to afford travel to a degree that your friends back home will only dream of.

Italy-AnnieChen86.  Make great friends and connections

Whether it be in China, Costa Rica or the Czech Republic, teaching English abroad provides the opportunity of a lifetime to meet and interact with people from different parts of the world and very few people who teach abroad fail to make lifelong friends while overseas.  Not only will you make friends – whether they be colleagues, neighbors, or your students – from the country where you are teaching, but in most cases you will also interact with a lively expatriate community.  You will meet and make friends with other English teachers from places like Australia, Canada, Britain and Ireland, and from other countries as well. You’ll encounter a lively social scene and enjoy opportunities to meet others with similar interests or passions, whether it be cooking, music, art, sports or anything else.

7.  Learn a foreign language

It’s not a secret that the best way to learn a foreign language is to immerse yourself in it, so what better way to learn Mandarin Chinese, German or Spanish than by living and working in Taiwan, Germany or Argentina.  You’ll be constantly exposed to the local language and have ample opportunities to practice; in addition, language classes will be widely available and cheaper than back in your home country.

8.  In a lousy economy, teaching English abroad offers lots of jobs

In one of the toughest job markets in generations, especially for young college graduates and folks in their 20s, the job market for native or even fluent non-native English speakers to teach English overseas is one of the few sectors where there are always job openings. One reason is that approximately one billion people in the world are taking English classes – 300 million in China alone – so the demand for native speaking teachers is nearly insatiable.  Another factor is that most teachers do not stay in the same jobs for more than a year or two, so there is a revolving door of jobs as schools and language institutes constantly seek new teachers to replace those who are leaving.

KEY TIP!  You DO NOT need to have prior teaching experience, an education degree, or even a college diploma to teach English abroad, but you’ll need to take a four-week (or the equivalent online or part-time) accredited TEFL certification class (TEFL=Teaching English as a Foreign Language) that will provide you with the skills and qualification you need to get hired and become a successful teacher. The vast majority of language schools and institutes will not hire you off the street simply because you speak English!

9.  Make a positive impact on the lives of others

For hundreds of millions of people around the world, learning English is essential for opening up doors to enhance educational and employment opportunities that can truly enable them to provide a better future for themselves and for their families.  As a teacher, you can take great pride in playing an integral role in helping your students achieve their goal of learning English and enhancing their chances to enjoy a better life.

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Virtually anybody can teach English abroad, but one key is research.  To learn more, get your hands on this country chart, which compares detailed salaries, hiring requirements, interview procedures and visa information for teaching English abroad in more than 50 countries around the world. You can also request a free downloadable brochure from International TEFL Academy that provides a basic guide to all aspects of teaching English abroad and you can call 773-634-9900 (+02 033 186 930 in the U.K.) to speak with an expert advisor who will review all of your questions about teaching English abroad.

John Bentley is a Senior Admissions Advisor at the International TEFL Academy, which trains and certifies nearly 1,500 people a year to teach English abroad and provides lifetime job search guidance to all students and graduates.  A graduate of Harvard and Northwestern, he wrote for the Egypt-Israel Edition of the famous Let’s Go! Guidebook series and has worked in the field of international travel, education, and journalism throughout his career. John also grew up in Cairo, Egypt and has traveled to 55 countries worldwide. 

You’re not in America anymore… How to make the most of your time in Europe

This summer I spent six weeks studying abroad in Italy. Best time of my life? That doesn’t even begin to describe it. You have an entire semester in Europe ahead of you, so get excited for the amazing adventure that awaits you! By the time you return home you will be well-versed in European life. In the meantime though, here are some tips to keep in mind to make the most of your new home.

Appreciate the culture and embrace new opportunities: You’re not in America anymore, so be respectful of your host country and embrace the cultural differences. You probably won’t understand the reasoning behind everything Europeans do, but that is half of the fun! Be open to new and different opportunities that you can’t experience at home by immersing yourself in their way of life, stepping out of your comfort zone, making an effort to learn the language, and finding places where the locals hang out.

Be spontaneous: I’m the kind of person who likes things to go as planned. When studying abroad though, this is rarely the case. Some of my best experiences while abroad actually came about because things didn’t go as planned. Make time to get lost or take a new route home because you never know what you will find.

Take advantage of easy travel: From weekend excursions with Bus2Alps to day trips with a few friends, take advantage of how easy it is to travel in Europe. Plan ahead so you can fit in all of the places you want to see. If you want all of the details to be taken care of for you, travel with the amazing Bus2Alps crew. The trip to the Amalfi Coast was one of the highlights of my time in Italy. If you want to be more spontaneous, grab a few friends and find the nearest train station.  It doesn’t take long to figure out how the trains work, and the places you can go seem endless.

Conquer homesickness: It is more than likely that at some point in between your schoolwork, your exciting new adventures, and your nights out with friends, homesickness will set in.  Everyone experiences it at different times and in varying degrees. It may seem like a good idea to seek out support from your friends and family back home. While this can be helpful, don’t rely on them too much. When you leave Europe, you will be disappointed if you spent more time on Skype and email than you did seeing the country. The best cure for homesickness is to stay busy and surround yourself with others. This will help you keep your mind off everything you are missing back home.

Remember to enjoy the little things: While you’re jetting between countries, jumping off cliffs, taking pictures holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and relaxing on gorgeous beaches, don’t forget to enjoy the little things as well. Try a new gelato flavor, watch the sunset, learn to cook an authentic dish, or listen to the music playing in the streets at night. These experiences are just as rewarding as the more popular experiences your friends and family are expecting you to have.

Last but not least, have fun! There is so much to learn about other countries and cultures when you take the time to explore what the world has to offer. Your experience studying abroad in Europe is something you will keep with you and talk about for the rest of your life, so make the most of it!

To read more about Kelsey’s study abroad experience, visit my blog at: http://exploringitaly2013.wordpress.com/.

End Of Your Semester Abroad

By Sara Wiseman

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The merciless sun is beating down on your back and sweat gathers at the brow as you make the final push to defeat your finals. Purging all of the trivial information you’ve been fed in summer classes will be a sweet relief. But then what? Your summer abroad session is through.

The time has come. Time to raise a glass in celebratory fashion, to embrace new friends that may turn into old memories, to remember the laughs that lasted too long for no reason at all and to take a good look around at a legendary city that gained familiarity. The time has come to go home.

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You’ll be greeted by hoards of people asking similar questions. And in true jukebox fashion, the appropriate disc will fall and the needle will drag across the desired track.

It’s nice to have a collection of pictures appropriate to share with your family tree and to present for your study abroad office. But a key to your return to the United States is documenting your experience as you remember it. Not as the experience that’s easily marketed to parents or jobs.

Print off the inappropriate pictures, write down the embarrassing stories and keep in contact with the friends you’ve made abroad. Pay homage. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself a jukebox tiredly playing the greatest hits and forgetting the lyrics to the B-side tracks.