Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Student Blog Shout-outs

For this blog, instead of writing a blog, the team would like to give a shout-out to the wonderful UW-Platteville education abroad alum who had blogs while abroad! Be sure to check out their blogs, as some have more than just education abroad material but much, much more!

1. Pondhopping- Karoline Twardokus
Want to learn about the United Kingdom or agriculture? Well why not learn about both? This blog takes you through her journey from before departure all the way to her last day in England! This is a must-read for anyone, especially those who love British culture, agriculture, or both of those!

2. Sararara14- Sara Vesel
This exciting blog offers more than just education abroad stories! From fashion trends to website reviews, this blog has all sorts of topics. The study abroad stories will hook you into the blog, but the other stories will keep your interest going! She spent her time abroad in Spain, so be sure to check out all of the stories she shared on her blog!

3. UWP Engineers Without Borders
This website takes you to the information page for the local chapter of Engineers Without Borders on our campus, and within their site you can find their blog! The blog includes stories of their members going abroad, so it is a must-read, especially for students interested in this organization, studying abroad, engineering, or all of the above!

Do you have a blog that you want highlighted? Be sure to leave a comment or contact us so next time we can include you in a shout-out! Are there any blogs that you follow for study abroad that we should check out? Leave a comment below too and let us know what the blog is! Do you want to check out any of the links to the blogs? You can find the links at the end of the post!

Have a lovely day everyone, now that the spring season is upon us!



Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Are Long-Distance Relationships Possible?

Are Long-Distance Relationships Possible?

When studying abroad, keeping contact with those you love at home can be difficult, especially if you are over 5 hours apart in time zones. What do you do? Is it even possible? It may be stressful at times, but rest assured that relationships are possible, and no, I am not just speaking about significant others. This also resonates with relationships with family and friends. People change, that is essentially inevitable, but working through that change and communicating can make all of the difference.


Family is the easiest and most difficult relationship to navigate while abroad, but why? It is because while you may not lose family like you lose friends or significant others, distance can put a strain on any family. At its worst, distance can tear families apart, which is why it is so difficult. On the flip side, it is the easiest because your family will always be there for you and can be there to support you in times of need. You cannot suddenly become unrelated to family, genetics are a thing!

But the question remains; can a long distance familial relationship work? Absolutely! Remember, they will still love you and support you. BUT, the key to maintaining this relationship is through communication. Even a message here and there or a video call once a week (or even month!) can keep families from not drifting apart.
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Friends, the ones that are always there for you.. Are they there still? Or do you still want them there? While studying abroad or just coming back, friendship dynamics can change because you yourself have changed during that time. This is completely normal; people can grow apart. And yes, that means even kindergarten buddies can grow apart as they get older. Remember to be kind but be honest with them too. Friends can talk though tough situations and be able to find some common ground.

So my answer is mostly yes. It really depends on the friendship dynamic you have before you even leave. If it is a toxic friend, it may actually be better to part ways. If this is a friend you do not ever want to lose, communication is key. Be sure to talk to your friend, good times or bad. Even if you are struggling with the friendship, talk it out. They may have some insight into what is going on too. It may be easy to give up on all of your friends at home, but do not do that either. Call them, text them, send them goofy Snaps, whichever. Your best friend from elementary can still be your best friend for life. 😊
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Significant Others

Ah yes, significant others. Leaving them to study abroad can be a struggle, you do not ever want to leave their side. But remember, you wanted to study abroad, so do not let someone hold you back on your dreams and goals. If they love you truly, they should still support you through it all. They do not have to agree with what you do, but they should still support you. Being away from your significant other can be challenging while abroad, and you may feel lonely a lot. Plus, there is the chance you may find someone else abroad.

The question lingers, is it possible to maintain a romantic relationship while apart? Absolutely! The same factor is involved here: communication. You cannot keep a significant other if you never speak. Also, be honest and open with them. If you feel the relationship is taking a different turn than what you would like, be sure to speak up. Even a text once a day can make a difference. They are possible, but you will just have to work to keep the spark going. Love will always find a way!

Coming home- Friends from Abroad

What about coming home and missing all the friends you made abroad? This happens all of the time too, and it can be quite challenging to overcome. Even just seeing someone who looks like them can send you through a whirlwind of emotions. These relationships are just as important; keeping international friends opens your life to multiple perspectives.

So like the rest, these relationships are possible, but please please communicate with them! If you never talk, chances are these relationships will deteriorate the quickest out of all of the relationships listed. If you want to keep a friend from abroad, all you have to do is talk to them. Or even tag them in a post on social media, anything to keep correspondence.

Based on your personal experience, are these relationships strong? Can they work? Comment below with your thoughts! If you disagree, be sure to leave a comment too, but remember to please be respectful.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Europe's Cultural Highlights

In honor of the upcoming event, International Night, here on campus, I would like to explore the possibilities that the cultural event could have in store for us. This year's theme is Europe, which is a large category, but here are some highlights of popular and favorite cultural foods, dances, and more that originate from the entire continent.

Spain- Flamenco

Starting in the far West of Europe in the Iberian Peninsula, when one thinks of Spain, usually flamenco comes to mind. It originated in the South of Spain in what is known as Andalucía, and now the staple music and dance of Flamenco can be found all across the country. It began as a dance among various minority cultures of the region, such as the Romani or the Moors and Jews that inhabited the region. Through time Flamenco flourished into the popular genre we know today. Don't know the music or the dance of Flamenco? Be sure to search it and watch videos to see what it is all about!

Germany- Gastronomy

No, we are not talking about a stomach disease but instead about what goes inside the stomach! That means great food and drink. Trying to narrow down the choices of fantastic foods from Germany is like trying to nail gelatin to a tree: pretty much impossible. From schnitzel to sauerkraut and bratwurst, Germany offers variety to please those with all different preferences! Germany is also famous for a certain beverage, but just make sure to drink it responsibly!

Honorable mention: Krampus
While not based solely in Germany (Austria can claim him too), Krampus has now become a famous and at times satirical Christmas icon all over Western cultures, and he hit mainstream media with an American adaptation of the character. While creepy in appearance, his history and lore are fascinating, even if it does keep some up late at night! (Don't know what he looks like? I won't spoil the surprise, look him up for yourself!)

Italy- Leaning Tower of Pisa

When one thinks of Italy, the most stereotypical response is pizza. However, from personal experience in Italy, I was truly astounded by the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The slant of the tower is truly unique, and being able to go inside is a sight to be seen. Even going up the stairs you can feel the changes as you circle around. The stairs change from wide to narrow on the way up, and looking out the tower provides a lovely view of Pisa (and Tuscany in general if you look hard enough.) While their pizza is unforgettable, Pisa is a must-visit, and the tower is an absolute must when traveling to Tuscany.
Credit: My personal photo album

Romania- Bran Castle (AKA Dracula's Castle)

Regardless of your belief in vampires, Bran Castle is still quite a culturally rich castle within Romania. However, the story of Bran Castle and Vlad the Impaler (and his lore) are not the exact same story. During Vlad's campaigns in his reign, he did ally and pass through Bran, but Vlad and Bran Castle are now connected through the story by Bram Stoker. Inside the castle you will find all sorts of rooms and sights to see, even some secret passageways built in the castle. Like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, this castle is a must-see during a trip to Romania.
Credit: for photos and amazing information. Be sure to check out the site!

Greece- Parthenon

Rounding out the cultural highlights is the home of modern democracy and Western philosophy, none other than Athens! Within the ancient city of Athens one can find the Parthenon, one of the most famous symbols of this city! Dedicated to the goddess Athena, on the walls of this structure chronicle many of the stories in Greek Mythology. Fantastical stories and the home of democracy? What more could someone need?! This site is a must-see for any traveler to Greece in order to see ancient history in person and remember that much of the world's political philosophies grew out of this city.

See any that I missed? Is there a must-try food that we should include? Is there any location in Europe that deserves a spot on the list? Comment below and be sure to let us know!


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

My Current Travel Bucket List

Each of us have dreams of travel, but sometimes the hardest part is picking where to go. I have been to my fair share of beautiful places during my college and high school years, but there are still plenty of places that I aspire to go. Hopefully my list of my top choices of countries to travel to next will be able to inspire your own list of travel aspirations!

3. Estonia

Estonia, the small Baltic country located just above Latvia in Eastern Europe, takes my number three spot. While not a typical touristy location, Estonia still has a lot of great sights and beauties to offer, and studying abroad would be quaint and relaxing with a total country population of between 1 and 1.5 million residents. The capital, Tallinn, has entrancing architecture, but make sure to take time out for the museums and the Orthodox Cathedral in the city! Overall, Estonia is a very forward-thinking and clean country. In fact, in 2013 the World Health Organization (WHO) ranked Estonia as number one in air quality in the world! Additionally, there are castles scattered across the country, so make sure to take a countrywide tour of what all Estonia has to offer!
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2. Peru

Peru, located on the western coast of South America, is a country of many wonders. While Machu Picchu is the obvious tourist stop (and still a must-see), Peru still has much, much more to offer its visitors. First, I find it important to mention their cuisine, especially one dish by the name of chaufa. Chaufa is a rice dish served with meats, vegetables, eggs, and differing sauces. I myself have never been to Peru, but I have had chaufa on many different occasions. This is a must-try dish from Peru, especially if you are a fan of rice. After trying it, chaufa now ranks as one of my favorite foods of all times. Another important spot to visit is the capital of Lima. With museums and city parks galore, Lima would keep you busy for days! Plus, who wouldn't want to see llamas and alpacas??
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1. Czech Republic

The Czech Republic takes the top spot for a number of reasons. This country has lots of sights and experiences to offer, such as the Sedlec Ossuary, a chapel in the country where the interior is completely made of bones! There is also the Houska Castle, which believers of the supernatural think it may be one of the entrances to Hell due to a seemingly never-ending pit within the fortress of the castle. Aside from the creepy sites, there are many other castles in the country to visit, and they likely would not be haunted either! The capital city of Prague is a beautiful and modern Central European city with breathtaking sites and architecture. If you are a fan of partying, fear not, for Prague and the Czech Republic as a whole will provide you with what you need. In fact, did you know that the Czech Republic drinks the most beer each year per capita? Finally, I personally desire to go to a smaller Czech city by the name of Tabor. This is where my family lived in the late 1800s before they emigrated to the United States. Even now, you can still find people in the Czech Republic with my surname, but there is a slight variation in the spelling.
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Honorable Mentions: 


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New Zealand

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Where do you want to go next? Do you agree with my list? Comment below and say your list of top 3 places to visit!


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Welcome Back!

Hello everyone, it has been a while! First, I would like to say welcome back to the blog, and welcome back to another semester in school! I would like to introduce myself, I am Stephanie Prochaska, a junior here at UW-Platteville, and just last semester I studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina! It was an amazing experience! And that is why I am here, to help those who want to study abroad or who are already studying and need advice! I will give tips on studying and traveling, but I will also let other alumni of study abroad share their stories with all of you! Stay tuned for more fun and more information that will come your way! Have an amazing day, and I hope this semester is successful for you all!


Monday, October 19, 2015

10 Reasons to Travel Alone

Fears. People have countless, strange and irrational fears. Ones that are unexplained. Like myself for example, I fear chickens. You might wonder why, but that is a story for another time that has to do with being traumatized by them as a child. One of the greatest and most common fear people have, even if they won't admit it, is being alone. I think this is one of the silliest fears, but also one of the greatest to overcome. As the great Oscar Wilde once said, 


“I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.” 


These words have always spoken to me. You need to learn how to be just Kate, just Alex, just Mary, or just magnificent, just outspoken or just adventurous. Whoever you are, you need to find out who that is without someone else, without your family, without your friends or without your boyfriend. WHO ARE YOU? Just you. This is also one of the most crucial times in your life to develop and find who you are, your college years. One of the most rewarding, self-finding,and self-fulfilling things you can do with your time in college, is spending some of it abroad. I have created a list of ten reasons why traveling alone is one of the best things you can do.

It will boost your confidence. 
When you travel alone you only have yourself to turn to. There is no one to rely on but yourself. So if you are traveling in a country you are not familiar with at all and you can not only survive, but get around well, it's hugely liberating. You fly alone, take buses alone, talk to locals alone, while possibly being in a country with a language you do not speak.   
It will make you adaptable.
Traveling is never perfect, but that adds to the magic of it. There will be times you miss a flight, a train or a cab. There will be times you lose luggage, don't understand the language or have to eat something you are not familiar with. All of this will make you adaptable to situations, adaptable to change.

It will allow you to meet more locals and immerse yourself in the culture.
When you are traveling alone you are more observant of everything going on around you. It opens you up to meeting more people and truly immersing yourself in the culture. If you are alone, you are not relying on someone else and you look more approachable versus if you are in a group. Traveling alone, you will be the only one from your culture versus being in a large group of say, Americans. You will be able to recognize more aspects of the culture and immerse yourself in their way of daily life, acting and living.

 It will make for more meaningful experiences.
When you travel alone the memories you make are simply your own. The experiences you have are only yours to share. Every decision you make will be your own so you can't go back and be upset because you did what your traveling companion wanted to do instead of what you really wanted to do. 

 It will make you assertive.
It is up to you when traveling alone to make all the decisions, so if you are indecisive this might also make you a more decisive person! When you are abroad and have to complete tasks you've never done before, like taking a bus in Spain, any accomplishment makes you feel on top of the world. You learn how to assert yourself in a variety of different situations and with a range of people.

  It will help give you direction.
Sometimes getting lost helps you find yourself. In college many of us have no idea what we want to do with our lives. Sure, we know people we love, hobbies we like to do and maybe changes we want to make in the world. Many of us struggle with deciding how to find a career that makes our soul happy. Travel will help you find that passion and it will lead you to it. You might be lost when you start your journey abroad, but I promise when you return you will have a much better sense of where you're going. 

It will inspire you.
It's hard to explain exactly how travel makes you feel, but the one word that comes to mind is alive. It allows you to break out of your comfort zone and it feels like a breath of fresh air. You will come back feeling inspired. Inspired to travel again, inspired to be the best person you can be and inspired to find happiness in the little everyday things. Never again will you feel like what you're doing has no purpose. Going abroad is achieving such a huge goal and it inspires you to achieve anything you set your mind to. 

It will make you independent.
If you can travel the world solo, you can do anything on your own. You won't hesitate when you return home to go get coffee solo or to go to an event alone and make new friends. In fact it's activities like those that you will be excited for, that you will part-take in more. You will have a greater appreciation for doing things alone, more so then ever before. 

It will give you perspective. 
We all have perspective, but when you travel alone that perspective changes drastically. You meet people from other cultures and they show you a way of looking at the world you never knew. You become aware of new issues that the world faces and even learn to have a new way of looking at issues you already knew of. You realize through travel what a small place you occupy, but what a large difference you can make.

It give you adventure.
One of the best words to ever grace language: adventure. Adventure is all about having exciting and unique experiences. When you travel alone very step you take will hold an adventure in itself. Traveling alone will also help you realize how to create adventure out of the simplest things. 
There you have it, the ten reasons to travel alone. There are countless more of course! Don't you feel a little fearless already? Being alone should not be something people fear, but something rather they should embrace. You can do it, I know you can. Come into the Education Abroad Office today and start your solo travel journey. This is one decision you won't regret. So throw off the bowlines and sail away from the harbor because there is a whole world out there to get lost in. So tell me, who are you?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

New School Year, New faces, New Opportunities

 Hello again from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Education Abroad Office! Morgan Budde signing in here again for another year as the Professional Writing Intern in the Education Abroad Office. Students have returned to campus for yet another great year and I am so excited to be writing to all of you from the Pioneer Planet blog once again. Many of you are probably thinking, classes already? Is this really September though? Feels more like July! Yes it is that time of the year, no matter what the crazy Midwestern weather tries to tell you. This also means it's that time of year to start looking into when you can study abroad! The office is off to a booming start with countless students already coming in with interest, and I cannot tell you how fantastic that is to see!

I thought I'd start the blog off this year by introducing a few new faces to the office. This year we welcome two new interns to the office as well as two new staff members in the Education Abroad Department.

Sami Sonkowsky- Interim Outreach Specialist 

Sami Sonkowsky is a new addition to the UW-Platteville Education Abroad Office as of June 2015 as the UW-Platteville Education Abroad Interim Outreach Specialist. Sami coordinates, markets, and advises on the UW-Platteville Education Abroad programs for both UW-Platteville and non-Platteville students.

Sami is currently a graduate student at UW-La Crosse and is studying Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education. Sami is a 2012 graduate of UW-Whitewater with a B.A. in Spanish with an emphasis in professional business. As an undergrad, Sami participated in a study abroad program through UW-Platteville at the Spanish-American Institute of international Education (SAIIE) during the Spring 2012 semester.

In addition to her degree from UW-Whitewater, Sami is TEFL certified from the TEFL Institute in Chicago, IL and has taught English and Science classes abroad in Madrid, Spain. Sami’s passion for education abroad was ignited from her own experience studying abroad in Seville, Spain and she hopes to share that passion by helping students reach their own study abroad goals.

Alyssa Shaff- Program Coordinator
Alyssa Shaff joined the UW-Platteville Education Abroad Office in July 2015 as the UW-Platteville Education Abroad Program Coordinator. Alyssa advises UW-Platteville students on education abroad options and application procedures, coordinates short-term faculty-led study abroad programs, and oversees the Global Exploration Living and Learning Community.

Alyssa earned her M.Ed. degree in College Student Personnel Administration and her B.A. in English Literature and Spanish from Marquette University, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  She has previous experience in international education as the Marquette University Office of International Education Graduate Assistant, Marquette en Madrid Study Abroad Ambassador, and as a study abroad participant at the Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain. Alyssa has a passion for learning about new cultures, languages, and all things international.

Carl Hatfield-Marketing and Outreach Intern
Carl Hatfield is majoring in Biology with an emphasis in Pre-Physical Therapy here at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Carl always aspired to live a life full of adventure and meet people from around the world. He first found out about Education Abroad through upperclassmen that had previously gone abroad. Once Carl took a leap of faith and decided to go forward with his dream of traveling the world, his life has been full of successes that he never would have imagined getting out of his education abroad experience.

Carl studied Marine Science at the University of the South Pacific in The Fiji Islands. His time there was well spent in regards to what he experienced. His memorable experiences in Fiji were endless, including having the opportunity to scuba dive with sharks. Meeting students from around the world and creating relationships with the locals was the best part of the adventure. The semester was not long enough, as he began to feel like a local himself.

Carl served as an Education Abroad Ambassador for the 2014/15 academic year and is excited to transition into his new role as Education Abroad Marketing and Outreach Intern. He believes that this positon will produce strong challenges for him in his final year, but more importantly he knows that he will leave with a lifetime full of memories and hopes to play an important role in encouraging other UW-Platteville students to study abroad.

Nicole Maala- Marketing and Outreach Intern

Nicole is an Engineering Physics major and is also pursuing a minor in Spanish. She will be starting her fourth year this fall.

In the fall of 2014, Nicole spent a semester studying engineering at Jönköping University in Sweden. It was phenomenal to learn and experience the Swedish language and culture, and while she was there she was able to travel to visit other locations as well including Norway, Russia, Estonia, Finland, Denmark, Germany, the Czech Republic, Spain, and even Iceland. The friendships and memories Nicole made with Swedish and other international students alike were incredible, and they will always stay with her. The following semester, spring of 2015, Nicole studied engineering at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. She had an amazing experience taking courses, making even more international and Australian friends, and exploring the beautiful country.

She has previously worked on campus through the DRIVEN Scholars Program, and truly enjoyed helping and connecting with her fellow students. Nicole is very excited to continue to do so through the Education Abroad Office. It is an unforgettable experience to study abroad, and she would like to help others see their dreams to travel and explore the world become a reality.

We have an amazing, talented, creative and driven group of people in the office this year, and it is going to be the best one yet for the Education Abroad Office. The best part? We all love education abroad and are proud advocates with a passion for helping students go abroad. Call, email or just walk in and set up an advising appointment today to learn more about education and to learn when and where you can go! This year we have many new opportunities for students to go abroad. We have added two exchanges to our programs. One will be located in Scotland and the other in Korea. We also have a great list of short-term programs this year around the globe, the perfect way to wet your feet with education abroad. College is a short four years, so the best time to start looking into going abroad is, now! After all, if not now, when?

The link below will take you to our website so you can start your journey with education abroad today!

Let's have a great year and I look forward to seeing all of you around the office!