Postcards From Abroad

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Archive for the tag “Study Abroad”

(STORY) Studying Abroad: Affording the Expenses

Photo Courtesy of Devan Ellison

Photo Courtesy of Devan Ellison

By Jessica Albert

Ever since she studied African American poetry in the sixth grade, graduate student Devan Ellison has had a deep passion for all things Africa. She never thought that she’d have the chance to visit the places she studied at JMU as an Africana Studies minor because she is a student and on a budget … That is, until one day when a particular flier caught her eye.

“I never thought I’d have a chance to [go] again in the same fashion,” Ellison said. “I knew I wanted to go as soon as Dr. Owusu-Ansah had posted a yellow flier in CMSS outlining the trip and the different classes that it could substitute for.”

Deciding she wanted to go on the trip was easy. Filling out the applications was also rather easy. Getting her vaccinations and passport were also easy. However, getting the money she needed to go on the study abroad trip was a little tricky.

The fees associated with the Ghana study abroad program are over thousands of dollars. Affording the trip and her other necessities and interests seemed almost impossible. During her study abroad application process, Ellison had a lot of other financial obligations. She was responsible for paying her rent and needed to fulfill financial dues to gain entrance into a sorority.

“Most students are encouraged to check with financial aid to see how much [aid] they are qualified to use,” Professor Dr. David Owusu-Ansah said. “Others have family help.  For the Ghana program, most minority students have benefited from the Dr. William King Charitable scholarship.“

Ellison could not receive funds from her parents and didn’t meet financial aid requirements. Her last bet was Dr. King’s scholarship, and being African American and an Africana Studies minor Ellison applied and received the scholarship.

“I was granted $3500 to attend the trip and without this scholarship I probably would not have gone,” Ellison said.

With the $3,500 under her belt, Ellison still needed some more funds to pay for her plane ticket and for spending money while she was on the trip.

Ellison facilitated her own fundraiser in hopes of raising enough money so she wouldn’t have to choose between the sorority and the trip.

“Because my finances were so tight, I did conduct a fundraiser,” Ellison said. “I drafted a letter and I sent it out to my church members. I made sure I got the directory of ever member in my church and I mailed letters every day for about a month straight.”

In addition to sending letters, she had her father pass some of her letters to his co-worker.  Ellison, herself, also passed out fliers in the barbershop she frequents while at home.

Although many of Ellison’s letters did not make it to their destination, Ellison received about $1,500 from her church congregation and other family members. She received a number of individual donations amounting in increments of $50 to $100.

Ellison’s church gave her the second biggest donation she received. One day during a break from one of her classes in Memorial Hall, Ellison received a phone call from her church telling her they were donating $500 to her trip.

“I just remember crying because I didn’t have to choose at that point,” Ellison said.

Ellison credits her fund raising success to her faith.

“I felt like if it was going to be, God was going to make a way for me, and he did,” Ellison said.

After months of applying, fund raising and waiting, Ellison boarded a plane to Ghana in the summer of 2010. Ellison describes her trip as a rewarding experience.

“It was also rewarding in the sense that I had a chance to experience my own culture,” Ellison said. “I ended meeting one of my best friends there. I had a priceless experience. It’s a beautiful place and the people are beautiful.”

To learn more about the Ghana study abroad click here.


England and Italy and France, Oh my!

By Jessica Albert

Hello readers,

It’s me, Jessica, and I would like to tell you some interesting facts and need-to-knows about the JMU Office of International Programs .


This post is exciting for me because I originally went on a search to find the names of all of the JMU study abroad locations… I soon found out that this list is GIGANTIC and is forever-expanding. So, after scrapping my first idea for a post, I went ahead and surfed the OIP website for some more information.

I didn’t know that there were different types of study abroad programs that the university exposes you to. There are many possibilities for a student looking to receive college credit while traveling the globe. There are actually four different options available to JMU students. Here’s what I found:

  1. There are JMU run programs. (Duh.) These are the ones we usually hear about. Where students go study in another country for a designated period of time–during the summer, fall or spring. Okay, okay, so here comes the information I didn’t know. There are short-term study abroad programs. I thought that study abroad programs had to be for an entire semester or entire summer. As it turns out, they don’t necessarily have to be. Who knew? (If you knew, I’m sorry if I’m boring you.) I also didn’t know that you could study abroad as a graduate student. I thought that once you graduated from undergrad your life was over and you couldn’t study abroad. Nope. It’s still possible. JMU offers a ISAT graduate study abroad program and a Political Science graduate study abroad program. Crazy, right?
  2. Up next are external programs. You don’ have to go through JMU to get you international study on, you can also go to a private company too. JMU will recognize credits received from an external company. You just have to be diligent and make sure you have all your ducks in a row in order to receive credit. Click here to get a list of external programs most JMU students use.
  3. Exchange programs are also offered through JMU. You could study at one of JMU’s partner universities as an exchange student. JMU has exchange locations in Australia, Egypt, Japan, Spain, South Korea, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
  4. I was really shocked when I found out about this last one. You can do an internship, volunteer or even work through the OIP. What an awesome thing to put on your resume! JMU advertises a London internship opportunity, but also encourages students to find internships elsewhere. Check out this link for the London internship and this one for other internship, volunteer and work opportunities.

Now that I am done typing, I want to hear from you guys. I have inserted our blog’s first poll. Take a second and participate with us. Thanks.

Alright guys, I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I loved writing it. I learned so much from just a few clicks on the JMU OIP website. I’ll check back in with you guys next Friday. Have a good weekend :).

Getting down with your Irish roots

Posted by Megan Brothers

Good luck of the Irish

As promised from last week, I will be exploring the Ireland trip that is offered here at JMU. The link provided shows everything you need to know about the trip including program cost, dates, places of study, and what the program is about. The other fun part about the website is that it has links to the students’ writing/photos/videos that they worked on while in Ireland in past years. It also has photos from the trip and a testimonial video which is pretty cool, so check them out!!

Ireland is somewhere I have always wanted to go. I don’t know what its appeal is. Maybe it is it’s mystic mountains, or irish pubs, or the singing and dancing of the Irish folklore, or maybe its because I have a lot of Irish descent in me, who knows. But regardless of why you are attracted to the particular country, Ireland is definitely a place to look into, whether studying or traveling for pleasure.

For those of you who are, say, “illegal here in the US,” the drinking age is 18 over in Ireland, so for those of you that are of age, Ireland has that option. Scratch that, Ireland has many options. As many of us know, the Irish know how to drink. So if you go to a pub in Ireland, I wouldn’t recommend a drinking competition with the Irish; you’ll get drank under the table. For more information about the Irish and their alcohol content, read this article about why the Irish drink so much; which I thought was pretty interesting.

Besides drinking and the eccentric nightlife, Ireland has many other things to offer. If you can nurse your hangover from the night before, Ireland is a land worth exploring. Depending on the area and time spent in Ireland, I’ve found some things to do while in Ireland. 

1. Visit the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. According to travelers, it is a “must see before you die” item, even for those who don’t like the taste of beer; sampling the extra dark beer is a must when visiting Dublin.

2. Festivals galore. According to the “things to do in Ireland” site, no matter what time of year you go to Ireland, you are bound to experience some kind of festival. After all, the Irish know how to enjoy themselves. Can you imagine what St. Patrick’s day looks like if every day is a celebration? A town painted in green, toasting beer bottles and cheering all night; what a sight to see.

  • To actually see Ireland from the local’s perspective, take a look at this youtube video. Its about 9:30 minutes long, but I think it accurately depicts what I’m talking about.

3. For those of you not quite at the legal age, or those who need to take a break from all the parties Ireland has to offer, take a relaxing cruise on the River Shannon, the longest river in Ireland.

4. Visit St. Patrick’s cathedral. See what all the hub-bub is about St. Patrick by going to that website. When in Dublin, this is a must see for anyone who knows anything about Irish tradition, or St. Patrick himself.  St Patricks Cathedral

5. This is something that wasn’t really on any itineraries that I found on the web. I was on a few months ago and came across these pictures of beautiful cliffs, called the Cliffs of Moher. When I was reading on, which I didn’t save, otherwise I would show you the actual link I used, it showed people walking near the edges of the cliffs. Apparently, there are no guard rails or anything. There are tours that lead you on a path, but staying on the path is not mandatory, but recommended. The winds near the edge are sometimes unbearable, forcing people standing too close to the edge to plummet to their deaths. The US Coast Guard is always on duty in case something like that does happen. However, do not let that stop you from witnessing the absolute beauty that these cliffs provide. Feel free to google search the cliffs for more outstanding pictures as well. Also, for those of you Harry Potter buffs out there, in the picture underneath this text, you may notice the rock formation jutting out of the sea. Yup, that is where Harry and Hagrid went in the first movie when Hagrid rescued Harry from the Dursleys!! 

So whether studying abroad in Ireland, trying to escape the homeland for some peace and tranquility in the mountains and scenery, or getting down with your Irish roots in the pubs and festivals, Ireland has something for everyone to enjoy!

Not the Sandwich.

COB 300 is the hardest class facing prospective Business Majors at JMU. This 12 credit hour class is comprised of four grueling components, Marketing, Finance, Management and Operations. This course is known to be relentless, and worst, it’s all packed into one semester.
Fortunately, if you can afford it, there is another, more interesting way to take this class, in Europe.
Those who are interested, can enroll in this study abroad program, based in Antwerp, Belgium, in both fall and spring semesters.
But COB 300 won’t take up all of your time, you’re going to need to relax, and take a breather.
But Let’s assume your parents are paying for this trip. They’re going to want to know you’re getting something more than a class out of this trip. You’re going to need to convince them that you took in some local culture as well, believable, as the majority of Belgium can understand English.
The best way to do this is by examining the history, and artistic endeavors of the region’s citizens.
And who better to examine than Antwerp’s own Renaissance man, Peter Paul Reubens, and how better, than by visiting his former residence, in downtown Antwerp.
Ruebens moved into the residence in 1610, until his death in 1640, in 1946; it was turned into the museum it is today.
His former home offers a great medium to learn about this great, if obscure man. He is to Antwerp as Davinci was to Florence, his presence had a tremendous impact on the culture of the city, and he was not only a painter, but a diplomat, scholar, and studio owner.
The house itself is comprised of three sections,
The courtyard and porch lead up to the interior of the residence, and were designed by the man himself. It’s opulent design put it in contrast with the traditional dull buildings of the era, and resembled an Italian palazzo, if not a palace.
The art room, appropriately named, was a centrally located foyer where Reubens housed the largest art collection in the entire city, some of which are still displayed.
Finally, the studio, in which the master worked, it set up, as it would have been in his time.
And naturally, the house is filled with his works, predominately based on subjects of history, religion, and mythology.
I can’t say for sure whether business majors like art and artists naturally, or if it is an acquired taste. If it turns out as the latter, The Rubens House would be a great place to widen your pallet.
As a fan of the Renaissance and of art, I certainly would enjoy it.
However, you may just want to show up, and snap a couple pictures for mom and dad, and call it a day. If that’s the case, this is the place you’re looking for.

3 Fun Things to do in Dublin, Ireland

By Jessica Albert

Hey readers,

It’s me Jessica and I would like to tell you some interesting facts and need-to-knows about Ireland.

The application deadline for JMU’s study abroad in Ireland was due on Tuesday. So for those of you who were able to get that in on time are some go-getting lucky ducks! However, for those of you who were a little slow on the uptake I still want to give you the oppourtunity of seeing what Ireland has to offer.

I found this article  that talks about some of the best places in Dublin you can’t miss when traveling there.

This is by far one of my favorites on the list. The legal drinking age in Ireland is definitely not 21 so most of us will be able to enjoy a trip to the Guiness Storehouse. The Storehouse is seven stories and from what I understand you can smell the brew from down the street!  Despite what you’re inital impression of this factory might be, the Storehouse is also filled with history. You can take a tour to see how the factory works and what goes into brewing Guiness beer. The tour also gives you a chance to get to know a little bit more about the history of the Guiness family. After your tour you can knock back a few and go to the top floor of the Storehouse for the best 360 degree view of Dublin. Beer is one of the staple beverages in Irish culture. So, that is why the Guiness factory is a can’t miss.

This is the Science Gallery in the St. Steven’s Green Neighboorhood of Dublin. The Science Center would be a great stop for any student traveling abroad in Ireland. Even the ones that hate science! The center is only two years old but has launched to be a phenomenal success because it is an interactive museum. The Science Gallery gives its visitors a very different experience. It allows you to partake in experiments within the facility. Not convinced? I wasn’t either to be quite honest. However, when I went to the Science Gallery’s YouTube Channel I really got into the place. The Youtube channel lets you see some of the experiments the the Gallery has to offer.


This final Dublin attraction is by far my favorite. The Viking Splash Tours are the most unique tour service I’ve ever heard of. You cannot miss the car/boat ride vehicles the tour service uses. They are like unlike any others. This activity is especially good for those who don’t have enough time to visited it all because it allows you to see it all. The tour takes you past attractions like St Patrick’s Cathedral,  Trinity College and Merrion Square. But, most importantly, the boat actually goes into the water of the Grand Canal to float past the U2 recording studio. How neat is that? All-in-all the tour is about 75 minutes long is is guided by a man dressed in a viking’s costume.

Alright readers, I hope that you found this post to be very appealing to you. It will give you many great and unique things to do if you ever choose to go to Dublin.


Personally, I’m not sure if going to Bosnia would be an enjoyable study abroad opportunity, but it would certainly be unique. When I think “study abroad”, places like London, Spain, and Italy come to mind. Those are the places “everybody goes”, the programs, itineraries, and lodging at these destinations have been set, executed, and repeated for years at JMU and other institutions.

This is why the discussion of the SMAD travel abroad program is a perfect way to kick off our blog; after all, we will specialize in, “off the beaten path”.

Bosnia is a country in the “Balkans”, the geographic area in southeastern Europe leading up to the Greek peninsula. It borders Serbia and Croatia. It is actually officially called Bosnia and Herzegovina, after the regions it occupies.

It is comprised of ethnically Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian peoples, originating from their namesakes.

What makes this particular program unique is the position that Bosnia finds itself in. It is a post-conflict country, regaining stability after a war between the various ethnicities. This war, which concluded in 1996, was caused by disagreements on how to divide the former Yugoslavia (which contained Bosnia and it’s neighbors). Not only was this war devastating to the new country’s infrastructure, but to it’s population as well, causing the most civilian displacement since World War II.

These are the issues that the SMAD program wishes to cover.

“This program is designed for students who have an interest in social issue documentary filmmaking as well as those interested in exploring the role media plays in post conflict societies” says the informational pamphlet.

The students will attend film festivals, workshops, presentations, and will conclude with the creation of a short documentary film.

But according to the itinerary creating documentaries is not the only aspect of this program.

Students will be involved with the “WSA-Franco Bettoli Center Youth Camp”, an organization that hopes to improve the living conditions of Bosnia’s youth, and educate them on peaceful conflict resolution. A concept desperately needed in that country.

This is not a trip for those students who simply want to have a good time. It seems intellectually and emotionally taxing.

It is lead by SMAD assistant professor Shaun Wright.


Neal Hollowell

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