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Youíre Only As Cool As Where You Study Abroad (and I'm not cool at all)

Jordan Steinfeld, Tel Aviv Israel

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you’re only as cool as your study abroad destination. Ok, I’ve never actually said that before – but it’s kind of true, don’t you think?

You can always tell something very special about someone from where they studied abroad. It’s like meeting their family or learning their zodiac sign, only way more accurate because they choose it themselves.

When it comes to coolness, I’ve always been stuck in the “adventurous but nerdy” category because I chose to study abroad in a city that no one has ever heard of.* But all of that is changing because I just saw my study abroad location on TV! ...   [more]

 

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How to Actually Pack Light

Jordan Steinfeld, Chengdu China

Packing light is all about planning and being rational. Sorry to take all of the fun and romance out of it. There’s plenty of time for fun, drama, and mystery while you’re abroad, it really shouldn’t be a part of your packing. Losing touch with rational thinking while packing will lead to you having a massive suitcase with nothing you actually need (or a very tiny suitcase to much the same effect). If you want a big dramatic packing story wait for the trip home from your time abroad because, honestly, I don’t know one person who’s handled that in a rational way (but that’s an article for another time). ...   [more]

 

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Scholarship of the week: Turkish Coalition of America Scholarship

Studying abroad can get expensive. I’ve been there and bought the t-shirt (I even have the student loans to prove it). The experience is worth it, especially if you qualify for some of the amazing scholarships that will minimize the extra costs. In this series of articles we’re focusing on some of the top scholarships for studying abroad (during your undergraduate degree, as a gap year and potential fellowships/scholarships for graduate and professional study). The competition for most of these is fierce so check out the run down and see if you qualify before spending the extra time and effort going through the application process.

This week we focus on the Turkish Coalition of America (TCA) Scholarship for African American, Hispanic American and Native American students.  This scholarship awards grants up to $2,000 per calendar year to full time undergraduates who have been accepted to a study abroad program in Turkey. It requires that students applying be planning on studying for a year, semester or summer and acknowledges that award amounts will vary with length of study.

To qualify for one of the 100 TCA Scholarships offered each year a student must:

  • Submit a completed application form with picture;
  • Submit documentation verifying acceptance into a study abroad program in Turkey, TRNC or in Bosnia Herzegovina (a copy of the acceptance letter from the school or organization with whom student’s will be studying in Turkey is preferred);
  • Submit a resume (must be on one single-sided 8.5x11 sheet of paper; and
  • Submit an official transcript (must be original and cannot be sent separately.

Along with this, applications must be submitted to Diversity Abroad and must be complete (incomplete applications won’t be considered).

This scholarship has the ability to award $2,000 for a year abroad in Turkey, definitely worth the effort and capable of making your time abroad a great experience without breaking the bank. Good luck! 

 

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Indelible Book Club: Neil Gaiman American Gods

Although the occasional bodice busters and dime store murder mystery novels can be fun, they aren’t necessarily the kind of books you’d want to take with you when you travel (unless you’re willing to bring a couple dozen in your carry on because, let’s face it, you’re going to fly through those things cover to cover pretty quickly).  You need something surmountable to kill the hours on the long plane ride or provide you with comfort on those nights when you just can’t seem to make a deal with the god of sleep.  Perhaps something that will captivate and entrance you, pulling you deep into a tapestry of intricate plot turns and clever characters.

 Well look no further my friend, I have found the book for you.  Although Neil Gaiman’s American Gods came out almost 11 years ago, it still rings true to the technologically dependent lifestyles we have cocooned ourselves within, weaving mythology of the old and new world into a story that is larger-than-life and imaginative.  We follow Shadow, a simple yet insightful man, through the forgotten towns of America, working as a right hand man to the leader of the abandoned gods of yesterday as they plan to take down the mythical entities of today’s world.  The book is clever and witty, taking characters from ancient legend and folklore and placing them in modern settings, side by side with gods of cars and casinos.  Gaiman story offers a unique insight into the paradigm shift of what humans have chosen to worship.  What once was the sun god is now the god of cell phone reception and traffic jams.

            This story is captivating right from the start.  Although it’s a huge chunk of pages to get through (almost 600), it keeps you enthralled and entertained while providing clever anecdotes about creatures worshiped by all sorts of cultures and time periods.  I have yet to find an imagination comparable to that of Neil Gaimain.  With stories like Coraline and The Sandman graphic novel series, Gaiman illustrates his insurmountable artistry when it comes to the world of fantasy and the feeble boundaries of what we know to be real and what could be possible.  Although American Gods may not be the Norman Rockwell painting of America that we tend to imagine when we are far from home, it still represents the ideals of today’s American collective.  Now, drop those concepts into the pot, mix in a dash of fantasy, and a hint of crass humor and you have a story that both satisfies and delights.

 I dare you to put it down once you start reading it.  Like Shadow, you will find yourself wrapped up in a world that may seem impossible but leaves your hanging on every word.  

 

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The Doís & Doníts to being Social in France

Image via: http://www.fastenseatbelts.eu/en

            In embarking in the long term and life changing travel that makes up your life abroad you're leaving your comfort zone and entering the unknown. Every country and culture has its own norms and coming from somewhere with its own version of normal behavior navigating a new version of normal behavior can be hard and full of social missteps. France in particular has a particular set of norms counter intuitive to what is practiced back in the States. To help you navigate the new norms here are some of our indelible do’s and don’ts for being social in France:

Do’s:

Do wear fashionable/nice clothing from home, the French place importance on looking nice and will not be found wearing sweats or flip flops out and about;

Do address people with titles i.e. “Monsieur” or ”Madame” (Sir or Mrs.) for the first time and in business meetings;

Do maintain eye contact with someone you are conversing with;

Do shake hands loosely when meeting someone, and when saying goodbye/leaving;

Don’ts:

Don’t eat with your fingers, always use your utensils even at fast food places

Don’t start eating until everyone in you party has been served. If you are in someone’s home, wait for your host to put their napkin in their lap then do the same and start eating;

Don’t expect people to be on time, being punctual is regarded casually in France;

Don’t smile and make eye contact with strangers on the street, it can be regarded as a proposition. 

 
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Umbrella-packing

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