Stories of Studying Abroad

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Words byKara Fagan, Delaney Rea & Kelsey Tidball | Photo by Jonathan Roensch

The Genius of Study Abroad

I went on this faculty-led study abroad trip this past summer and it was, hands down, one of the best decisions I have ever made. My trip took me to Dublin, Oxford, London and Paris. We were in each city for about a week and were able to see the sights, hang out in the city and explore the historical and literary roots of each culture. This was the perfect study abroad trip for me, a journalism and theater student who transferred here after my freshman year and, because of that, lost out on the opportunity to take an entire term abroad which is something I had set out to do as a part of my undergraduate career. This trip gave me the opportunity to experience a few different study abroad trips in one. I saw four different cities and three different countries and each morning I started the day with a lecture/discussion based on the literature, art and theatre of each city. In Dublin, we studied James Joyce and Oscar Wilde, in Oxford, we studied Lewis Carroll, in London, we saw The Phantom of the Opera, An American in Paris, Les Miserables and The Wind in the Willows. In Paris, we visited The Louvre, The Musee d’Orsay and The Pompidou. We walked along the Seine, we sat at cafes, had High Tea and wrote in our journals. I started working on a play that eventually became my honors college thesis project. The trip was full of music, theater, literature and art, and I could not have asked for a more perfect program. I discovered the program through the Clark Honors College (CHC) website, and when I heard it was being led by the illustrious Barbara Mossberg, a lit professor in the CHC. I attended a meeting and was immediately sold. Apply by March 15 to be part of the summer 2018 cohort.

Journalism In London

Studying abroad has been on my to do list ever since I was in high school. I had always heard it was an experience of a lifetime and that’s exactly what it was. In the summer of 2017 I had the opportunity to go on a five-week program to London for journalism. The classes that I attended, which were at least once a day, included The Culture of Sports in the U.K. and International News. The content that we learned was very fascinating and something that I greatly enjoyed. Besides just sitting in a room for classes, we went on excursions and trips to places including the Chelsea FC stadium, Shakespeare’s Globe, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the cricket match at The Oval, World Paralympic Championships, the Guardian newspaper and the Wimbledon Championships. The Wimbledon tennis match was my personal favorite because it was during the Fourth of July. The main reason why I absolutely loved this trip is because of the relationships I made with other UO students. I made friendships with people that I am still currently close with and we were able to go on many adventures during our time in London. Some of these included Brighton Beach, the famous restaurant Sketch, an Ice bar and rooftop bars, the London Eye and Big Ben, picnics in Primrose Park and Cereal Killer Cafe. We also went to a popular underground restaurant/bar called Gordon’s Wine Bar, which was one of my favorite places because of its history. Also, everyone in the program had the opportunity to travel on the weekends with friends and experience different cultures. I was able to take weekend trips to Scotland and Paris with a few people I had just met and it was such an exhilarating experience. All in all, this trip to London opened my eyes in many ways that I will always remember and appreciate and recommend to absolutely everyone thinking about it. I heard about the program from the study abroad fair and on the Global Education Oregon website. You can apply by March 15 for the next trip in summer 2018.

Mexican Studies & Spanish Immersion in Querétaro; Cinema Studies in Dublin

My experiences studying abroad in Mexico and Ireland have been among the most memorable I’ve had in college. Prior to learning about any programs in particular, the opportunity had been on my radar thanks to my father; he’d studied abroad in Israel himself during college. I’d heard him speak for years about how rewarding the experience was, how it had shaped his identity and inspired in him an awareness of other cultures and ways of life. I can confidently say that these takeaways were 100 percent true for me, and I’d bet that they would be for just about anyone else, too.

Mexico was the destination for my first study abroad session. During the summer after my freshman year, I studied language and culture in the south Mexican city of Queretaro. I heard about the program through my 100-level Spanish courses, and I decided to participate partially to complete my B.A. language requirements ahead of time. Initially, the shock of being thrown into another culture language I hadn’t gained fluency in was a tricky transition. I had to  navigate my way around a new city, a new relationship with a host family and life as a minority in a community for the first time in my life. My study abroad program provided me with the resources to make the experience incredibly rewarding. I had my peers, a program advisor and the push to make it all culminate in a worthwhile experience. The beauty of Mexico itself made that easy; from climbing to the peak of Mt. Bernal, to afternoons getting lost in the cultural hubs that were the city’s plazas, to swimming beneath waterfalls in the lush jungle ruins of Xilitla, the country had almost too much to take in. While it was by no means a simple transition, once I got used to life in Queretaro, it became like a second home.

Skipping ahead two years time, I found myself studying abroad again—this time in the form of a cinema studies program in Dublin, Ireland. I learned about the program early in college, and it always intrigued me. The opportunity had lodged itself in my brain so deeply that by my junior year, I knew I had to chase it. Making up a large portion of my ancestry, Ireland had been a destination of choice for years prior. Once I arrived, it proved to be a much different experience than Mexico. This time, there was no language barrier. Locals even assumed I was Irish occasionally (I assume my red hair made this mistake understandable, if not oddly stereotyped). Without the inhibitions of feeling out of place, the cultural immersion was more immediate. I fell in love with the country’s landscape and culture, with trips to the Cliffs of Moher, the Skellig Islands and the cities of Galway and Dublin standing out among the excursions. All in all, the times I spent on both study abroad programs are ones that I hold special.

Traveling Tips From the Pros:

Make a budget before you go.

It’s important to allocate money for expenditures like food, souvenirs, excursions and more. If you give yourself an outline for how much to spend ahead of time, you can avoid blowing your entire budget halfway through the program. Depending on the length of your trip, consider allocating between $400 to $700 for personal use.


If you can, step away from the program sometimes.


The activities you do with your program will be great, but it’s important to find

your own experiences when you can. Whether you take a weekend to travel or just explore on your own for an afternoon, it will enhance your experience to find your own way occasionally.

Pack Light.

Pack lighter than you think you should. I promise you will not need that extra pair of shoes or that hat you may or may not wear once. You’ll thank me when you’re lugging your suitcase through the metro past hundreds of people and up hundreds of stairs.

Keep a journal.

If you can, record everything in writing. Set aside at least 20 minutes at the end or beginning of each day to record your day and your thoughts. Not only is it a great keepsake, but it will also help you stay sane.