Valpo Voyager

Student Stories from Around the World

Month: August 2017 (page 1 of 2)

Fins Aviat!

Author: Angelys Torres

Location: Barcelona, Spain

If you are reading this I hope it is because you are considering a study abroad experience. I’ll start by saying, DO IT. Of course it is scary but it is also really exciting. And if you are one of those people who think you can’t do it, explore your options because you can. I knew that I don’t like being away from home for long periods of time and that I was going to need substantial financial assistance, but I didn’t let those things stop me from having my experience. And neither should you.

I am writing this final message because unfortunately, my experience has come to an end, but this could be just the beginning for you. So here is some “study abroad” advice that I picked up over the last month.

  1. Be prepared. From the moment that airline ticket is confirmed, the countdown begins. Preparations and orientations are well underway. In this time, it becomes easy to panic. Barcelona is the number one city in the world for pick-pocketing. I had learned this during orientation and immediately thought the worst. Rather than letting myself drown in worry, I packed bags with single zippers that would be easier to watch. I am happy to report that I made it through the month without being pick-pocketed. So don’t panic, be prepared.


  1. Don’t expect too much. Students often find themselves waiting for some grand life-changing moment the minute they step off the airplane and become disappointed when that doesn’t happen. Personally, that was me. I walked down onto the tarmac with a huge smile on my face ready to soak in the Barcelona sun. I found myself disappointed for the first few days because my reality did not match my expectation. Fewer expectations equals fewer possibilities for disappointment.


  1. Embrace change. This shouldn’t be a surprise, but studying abroad means being in a new place and a new culture. When we vacation, we only see little parts of that new culture. We often stick to tourist areas, stay in hotels, and only visit for a short time. Study abroad is not a vacation, and this distinction is actually incredibly important to make. In my short time, I changed from tourist to “local.” I explored residential areas, made friends with locals, and even began to feel annoyed by other tourists.


  1. Be open to new experiences. New culture means new lifestyles. Since study abroad is more of a “living away” experience rather than visiting, a lifestyle change is often necessary. Be open to those differences. You may be surprised and find something you really like. Barcelona, although a very populated city, is very laid back and slower paced. At first, this drove me insane but, over time I found that I loved taking my time and enjoying the small things.


  1. Remember who you are but find someone new. Being in a new place can be exciting and all encompassing. At times, it is easy to get lost in the daily motions. The secret is: there is no right or wrong way to have your experience. You know your likes, dislikes, limits and desires more than anyone else. Only you can bring those to life. So don’t be afraid to express yourself, take risks, go out on your own, or stand your ground. During my time in Barcelona, I was faced with more challenges than I could have ever anticipated. Each and every one taught me something new about myself. I was always me, but I was always growing, and that’s the real grand life-changing moment I was waiting for all along.



Introducing the Bloggers: Skylar

Blogger: Skye Schoedel

Location: La Rochelle, France

Major: Marketing with a French Minor

One of the biggest regrets college students have is not going abroad. Going abroad and living in a foreign country after college is something that is typically incredibly expensive, but doing so while you’re in school allows for SO much money to be saved – you pay the same tuition as you would at Valpo and the cost of housing is typically similar. I knew I wanted to study abroad since I was in high school, because it’s an amazing opportunity for me to get out there and explore the world – pushing myself out of my comfort zone and taking my language skills and putting them to use, it’s an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up.

I’m incredibly excited to travel around Europe – I’ve never been to Europe and I am beyond excited to go and see all of the different cultures and people, their ways of life, the food, just everything that will be different. I cannot wait!!


Beaches, Boats, and Bush Dancing

Author: Jessica Hanson

Location: Newcastle, Australia

Well, I’ve officially survived three weeks here in Australia! It’s been crazy getting into the swing of things, but I’ve found fun friends and activities to keep me busy and figured out how to shop and cook for myself! It’s definitely weird getting adjusted to a new country, but the experience already has been absolutely amazing!

Over the last three weeks, I have done everything from checking out new places to Australian dancing to beach clean ups or just hanging out at the beach and so much more! Before starting the semester, I was really nervous that I would get here and not find anyone to hang out with or activities to keep me busy, but I promised myself I would get involved so that my limited time here in Australia would not go to waste! This last week was a bit less exciting as I’ve been battling off a cold for a week now, but I didn’t let it totally stop me from exploring and doing stuff around Australia. It’s definitely paid off to put myself out there- everyone here is so nice and welcoming, and, of course, they do love the American accent!

So here’s just a sneak peek into everything I’ve accomplished while I’ve been here so far. I haven’t done much traveling yet as I am at the mercy of the public bus and train system, but those adventures are coming very soon, so stay tuned! 🙂

Recreational Activities:

Perhaps the weirdest thing I’ve done so far is decide to join my building’s Girls Touch Rugby Team! I figured it was a great way to meet some girls in my building while getting some physical activity in at the same time. I had no idea what I was doing, but the girls were heaps helpful and at least I get the rules now (I think!) We lost our first game last Monday but at least it was fun!

I’ve been looking for some dance opportunities here in Australia since I miss my beloved Valpo Ballroom Team so much… While they don’t have much ballroom dancing in the area, I have thankfully found a few opportunities! One was a classic Australian Bush Dancing night, which I can’t describe as anything other than the kind of choreographed dancing you always see at Old English Balls- but country style! And the other is a place called Club Jive over in the city that teaches Modern Jive (not to be confused with ballroom Jive). It was great to get dancing again and, like all other social dancing I’ve been to, I was by far the youngest in the room!

Although their mild winter of 60-70 degrees is nothing like the cold Wisconsin winter I’m used to, it still is a bit chilly to go to the beach. However, we did have a lovely day hanging out with other international students at Glenrock beach playing cards, ultimate frisbee, and sand volleyball!

My lovely friend Rosie was nice enough to take me with her to the Newcastle Farmer’s Market last weekend for my weekly supply of fresh fruits and veggies! Cool to see, but nothing extraordinary here- it was a pretty big spread of lovely local produce and handmade food items typical of an American farmer’s market.

Last but not least, I was feeling lazy and needed a day to hit the city and explore. Original plans to do a Memorial Walk along the cliff were derailed by rainy weather, so me and my friend Jade improvised and hit two of the museums in the city- the art gallery and the steel workers museum. Pro Tip- if you have the chance, always go to museums with someone who knows the culture- Jade was by far much more informational at answering some of my questions and giving me insights into Australia than simple exhibit descriptions could ever be!

Environmental Involvement:

One of my hopes choosing to study in Australia was that I would learn heaps of interesting things about the environment and ways that the Aussie culture promotes its upkeep and preservation. In addition to the wonderful things I am learning in my Sustainable Society class, I am part of the Newcastle University Student Environmental Club (NUSEC) on campus which keeps me updated on all the environmental activities going on during the semester. So far, I have participated in two beach clean ups and gone to three different environmental info/speaker events focusing on climate change and sustainable practice. It’s been fun to get involved and learn about the policies and practices of a new country!

And the crowd favorite- Parties!:

First- Autonomy Day! Autonomy Day is a huge deal here at University of Newcastle! It happens during second semester every year during the first week in August and commemorates when University of Newcastle became an independent campus from University of New South Wales. Apparently their autonomy is a huge deal since they’ve been celebrating it for over 50 years!

  Second- The Sydney Harbor Boat Party! Now THIS was another once-in-a-lifetime experience that could not have happened on a more beautiful day! The Exchange Student Network here on campus organized an event for any University student to come hang out for a lovely evening on a 3.5-hour cruise around the Sydney Harbor! We went under the famous Sydney Harbor Bridge and passed by the Sydney Opera house. The coast and skyline was beautiful during sunset and it was a perfect night to meet new people and hang out without a care in the world. If you ever get this opportunity, 10/10 recommend!

Well that’s all I have for you today mates! Sorry I’m a little light on specific pictures, I guess I didn’t take as many during my fun outings as I would have liked! Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in a couple weeks 🙂


2017 Photo Contest Winners: Grand Prize

Grand Prize

Name: Peaceful Request
Photographer: Ian Olive
Location: Venice, Italy
Program: Germany Study Center
Description: A calm protest and request

2017 Photo Contest Winners: Valpo Near and Far

Category: Valpo Near and Far

1st Place:

Name: The Penguin Peninsula
Photographer: Katherine, Carlson
Location: Otago Peninsula, New Zealand
Program: Summer in New Zealand
Description: Ocean lookout at the end of the Otago Peninsula with penguins

2nd Place:

Name: Guinness Lake
Photographer: Michelle Ford
Location: Wicklow Mountains, Ireland
Program: Christ College Spring Break in Ireland
Description: We’re always proud to rep Valpo!

3rd Place:

Name: Reppin’ Valpo in the Prague Schools
Photographer: Hannah Purkey
Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Program: Summer in Prague
Description: My Valpo flag and I got lost and ended up at a Prague college!

2017 Photo Contest Winners: Unforgettable Moment

Category: Unforgettable Moment 

1st Place:

Name: Polluting the Ganges with Sins
Photographer: Emma Chelsvig
Location: Varanasi, India
Program: World Internships
Description: Each day thousands of Hindus journey to the holy (and heavily polluted) waters of the Ganges River to cleanse themselves of their sins.

2nd Place:

Name: Through Binoculars
Photographer: Tiffany Luehrs
Location: Xixi Wetlands, Hangzhou, China
Program: China Study Center
Description: When I went bird watching for my biology class, I noticed how the binoculars made a perfect circular frame every time I focused on a different part of the wetland. I decided to take photos through the binoculars and was surprised at the results!  I made this collage with a few of my favorite images from the day.

3rd Place:

Name: Dear Porto…
Photographer: Jewan Attallah
Location: Porto, Portugal
Program: French Language Immersion Semester
Description: The photo represents my personal love for Porto.

2017 Photo Contest Winners: Sense of Place

Category: Sense of Place 

1st Place:

Name: Descending to Ascend
Photographer: Emma Chelsvig
Location: Varanasi, India
Program: World Internships
Description: Locals and Indian tourists flock to the ghats in Varanasi where they bathe themselves in the Ganges’ holy water.

2nd Place:

Name: We Have  Seen the Light
Photographer: Savannah Jorgensen
Location: Florence, Italy
Program: England Study Center
Description: Florentine people celebrating

3rd Place:

Name: Nymphenburg Palace
Photographer: Kostadin Pendev
Location: Munich, Germany
Program: Reutlingen Summer Engineering Program
Description: The Nymphenburg Palace was built from the 17th to the 19th century for the Bavarian royal family. Behind the palace, there is a garden that is 88 square miles.


2017 Photo Contest Winners: People

Category: People 

1st Place:

Name: A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words
Photographer: Savannah Jorgensen
Location: London, England
Program: England Study Center
Description: Local artist showing his chalk talents off at the National Gallery

2nd Place:

Name: Reflective
Photographer: Katherine Carlson
Location: Mirror Lake, New Zealand
Program: Summer in New Zealand
Description: Self portrait of me looking off in the distance at Mirror Lake

3rd Place:

Name: Gondoliers in their Canals
Photographer: Amy Klass
Location: Venice, Italy
Program: Germany Study Center
Description: Venice, Italy is a beautiful city consisting of hundreds of canals ruled by boats, tours, and of course, gondolas! Taking a ride through the canals is the best and most unforgettable way to view the historic city of Venice.

2017 Photo Contest Winners: Crossing Cultures

Category: Crossing Cultures 

1st Place:

Name: Spaetzal
Photographer: Ian Olive
Location: Reutlingen, Germany
Program: Germany Study Center
Description: Lucy makes Spaetzal

2nd Place:

Name: Chasin’ Cataratas
Photographer: Vincenza Zaia
Location: La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Program: Costa Rica Study Center
Description: Do things that scare you, things that make you realize how small you really are.

3rd Place:

Name: Nice Flags in France
Photographer: Amy Klass
Location: Nice, France
Program: Germany Study Center
Description: Flags from all different countries lined the street along the Mediterranean and the path to a lighthouse in Nice, France!

Introducing the Bloggers: Keith

Blogger: Keith Nagel

Location: Windhoek, Namibia

Major: International Relations and Geography

I chose to study abroad because I feel like the only way to truly understand foreign places is to go and experience them yourself. I am most excited about the amazing scenery that Namibia has to offer. With one of the most beautiful and desolate deserts in the world, I’m sure the views will not disappoint.

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