Monday, February 3, 2014

From Platteville to Zwolle, and back again

New semester, new faces! Interns Holly and Nate have moved on, and joining us in the UW-Platteville Education Abroad Office for Spring 2014 are AJ Coley and Nichole Padgett. AJ is a Marketing and Outreach Intern who studied abroad in Zwolle, Netherlands one year ago in the Spring of 2013.

AJ is majoring in Business Administration with an International Emphasis

"My favorite part of studying abroad was probably the fact that I was the only American there, so I got to learn about many different cultures. I learned a lot about the Hungarian culture because that was where my roommate, Bence, was from. He invited me back to his home town in the Western part of Hungary to further experience his culture. It was awesome, his parents couldn't speak any English so he had to translate for me, but it was pretty great. There was a language barrier, but we managed to figure things out and have a great time.

Like this one time we went to a castle in Austria and everybody was supposed to meet back in the car, but nobody was there except for his Dad. So I just kind of like shrugged at him so he knew I was confused, and he got it and pointed to where everybody went. It just goes to show how important the non-verbal communication was for us on that trip.

AJ with Bence's family in Hungary
The structure of the University in Zwolle was pretty different. Each class met one time per week. At the beginning of the week you had to figure out what time they met at, because it wasn't always the same. In that way, it wasn't as organized as here. There was no homework, and the only thing you were graded on was the final exam. It was terrible! I like homework points because they are easy points. If you have to rely on one final, it's not that great. The homework here keeps you on track for the class. There you show up and listen to a lecture, but you don't really have to think about it until the end.

In front of the Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona
My favorite place that I visited abroad was Lisbon, in Portugal. I met a friend that studied abroad at my high school from there. After not seeing him for six years, I stayed with him at his home in Lisbon for four days. It was really good- a different experience. They only eat like twice a day and the dinner was at 11 p.m. I forgot what we ate, but his mom cooked regular Portuguese food and it was really good. He drove us around and showed us the entire city, everything touristy. I also found out that there are two cities called the "city of seven hills" and this is one of them, because the road and everything were very hilly. It was also the first time I've been to the ocean, and on a real beach. That's the first thing we did after landing, was go to the beach.

I also went to Barcelona, with a  friend that visited me from UW-Platteville. We visited the soccer stadium, one of the most historic stadiums in Europe, so that was really cool to see. We took a tour and learned at lot about the city. It was the first time I went kayaking, off the coast of Barcelona and France. There were caves that we kayaked into-it was really cold. We docked the kayaks there and went snorkeling. We saw starfish and some other tropical creatures."

Q. So, what made you want to work in the Education Abroad office?
 I want to help students in anyway I possibly can in order to help them follow their dreams of one day being abroad. Working here, I also get to learn more about different universities and places abroad. I enjoy connecting with these students that desire to go abroad, because I once had a desire that I wished to fulfill and it meant the world to me that I was able to.

Stay tuned to learn about Professional Writing Intern Nichole's experiences in Japan! 

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