Illinois Study Abroad News

Home » Posts for... » Current Students

Category Archives: Current Students

The Wonderful World of the “Untranslatable”

Guest Blogger: Lindsay Anderson, Senior Program Assistant at the Study Abroad Office, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Have you ever had a feeling or felt an emotion that, when asked to describe it, you couldn’t find a single word in your own language to explain it? Does an action or feeling trigger a memory or a funny/cute/interesting stream of consciousness in your mind? Well you are not alone! In fact, this phenomenon of “untranslatability” is quite common across all cultures. Here are a few intriguing examples of feelings, emotions, actions, and situations that are deemed “untranslatable” from around the world. See if you can think of any others!

                              GERMAN                                                                                    JAPANESE 

found-in-translation-untranslatable-words-illustrations-anjana-iyer-4

               found-in-translation-untranslatable-words-illustrations-anjana-iyer-5

                          SWEDISH                                                                            RUKWANGALI (Bantu Language)

                                          found-in-translation-untranslatable-words-illustrations-anjana-iyer-9found-in-translation-untranslatable-words-illustrations-anjana-iyer-11

                            KOREAN                                                                                 INUIT (American Indian)

                                          found-in-translation-untranslatable-words-illustrations-anjana-iyer-23found-in-translation-untranslatable-words-illustrations-anjana-iyer-24

      TSHILUBA (Bantu Language)                                                                           YAGAN (Indigenous Australians)

                                                  found-in-translation-untranslatable-words-illustrations-anjana-iyer-25found-in-translation-untranslatable-words-illustrations-anjana-iyer-30

 

Photo Credit for the Above Photos: http://www.boredpanda.com/untranslatable-words-found-in-translation-anjana-iyer/


SPANISH                                                                                    YIDDISH

cute-illustrations-untranslatable-words-marija-tiurinacute-illustrations-untranslatable-words-marija-tiurina-3

Charming-Series-of-Illustrations-Depict-What-Words-Fail-to-Capture2__880

Photo Credit for the Above Photos: http://www.boredpanda.com/cute-illustrations-untranslatable-words-marija-tiurina/

PORTUGUESE

2e008eecc70a46614147b1ec1b04c05f

Photo Credit: http://piccsy.com/2013/11/photo-131ce81c5

International Cuisine – A European Food Tour

While you’re studying abroad and dabbling in the various aspects surrounding you, one of the most important ones to consider are the delectable goodies and treats offered in your new host country culture. Though it’s easy to turn to the familiar American comfort that reminds you of home, such as; hamburgers, pizza or a big ol’ burrito, it’s important to step out of your comfort zone and explore all of the delicious cuisine!

When I studied abroad in Uppsala, Sweden I got to try so many traditional Swedish meals and snacks. Additionally, as I traveled to other countries and cities in Europe, I made it my mission to try at least one traditional (or popular) food item from each of the places I visited. So, are you ready for a European food tour? Here are the top ten most delicious foods I experienced in Europe (in no particular order)!

 1. Sweden – Köttbullar (Meatballs) 

DSC04787

If you’ve never been to Sweden, but if you’ve been to IKEA in the U.S, you’ll notice that a very popular Swedish meal is meatballs accompanied by boiled potatoes, gravy and lingonberry sauce. Meatballs are a staple in Sweden and eaten regularly. I had them almost every week during my time there! The meal is hearty and of course incredibly tasty. Add a side of Daim pie if you want a treat twice as special.

2. Croatia – Fusi Pasta 

DSC06309

Believe it or not, Italy isn’t the only famous country for its pasta. In Croatia, specifically the region of Dalmatia, pasta is a very popular dish and is often handmade and dressed in various ways. This pasta, called fusi pasta is a heavier in texture and can be described as a crossover between a typical noodle pasta and gnocchi. The pasta had a creamy spiced sauce, fresh vegetables and fish for an extremely affordable price! The restaurant also provided gorgeous views of the Adriatic Sea at sunset.

3. Spain – Seafood Paella 

564006_10151605663543023_1252288896_n

Paella is a Spanish rice dish seasoned with saffron. While in Barcelona, I chose to try the seafood paella. Inside the paella were shrimp, mussels, lobster and scallops. This dish is extremely flavorful and oh so very filling. Definitely set me up for a much-needed siesta afterwards.

4. Denmark – Plaice and French Fries 

DSC05630

The Danes have a huge affinity for fish since they are surrounded by sea. During a trip to Copenhagen and a stop in Tivoli gardens I decided to try the popular dish of breaded filet of Plaice, french fries and remoulade. Plaice is a type of flounder that is fried similar to a catfish fillet. The Danes like to use remoulade sauce instead of tartar sauce to accompany this hearty meal. The remoulade sauce is a bit sweet and tart but incredibly delicious!

5. France – French Macarons 

DSC07860

French macarons are one of the world’s best desserts! They’re delicately made and flavored with infusions ranging from coffee, mocha, pistachio and rose petal. My favorite macarons are the pistachio ones. These serve for a perfect afternoon treat to satisfy that sweet tooth. And if you’re ever in a major city, look up La Duree, French luxury bakery they have the BEST macarons around.

6. Sweden – Kanelbullar 

IMG_7308

As you may remember from a previous blogpost, fika is an extremely important staple in Swedish life. A fika is typically deemed as a “coffee break” for people to catch up with each other and enjoy dessert or something tasty together. Read more about fika here. My favorite fika item is the kanelbullar, which translates to “cinnamon roll.” BUT, the Swedish kanelbulle taste much different than American ones. Rather than being slathered with frosting, kanelbulle are sprinkled with crystal or pearl sugar. But, the thing that sets these goodies apart from all the other cinnamon rolls is the flavor and spice. Kanelbulle are seasoned with black cardamom. Cardamom has a very potent and distinctive state, and without it, Swedish kanelbulle wouldn’t be the same.  Check out this recipe I use to make them at home here.

7. France – Croque Monsieur and French Fries 

249051_10151370730216706_1800582010_n

In France, croquet monsieur is a very popular snack. Its essentially a grilled ham and cheese sandwich topped with delicious béchamel sauce. I enjoyed this one with a sweet view of the Eiffel Tower!

8. Russia – Rice, Beef and Piroshki (stuffed bread-rolls)

DSC06948 DSC06947

During our first day in St. Petersburg we decided to jump right in! We visited a traditional Russian restaurant on Nevsky Prospekt (the main street in St. Petersburg) and ordered the daily lunch special. Unfortunately, I don’t recall the Russian name of the meal but on the menu was white rice, cooked beef and some sort of sweet and sour tasting red sauce and bread rolls. An awesome thing about the rolls in Russia is that they are always filled with something and are almost never just bread. Mine were filled with potato and the other with cabbage and ground beef. Awesome introduction to Eurasian cuisine!

9. United Kingdom – Crumpets 

DSC02207

Although the most typical British meal we all know and love is fish and chips, a popular breakfast food in England is crumpets! Crumpets are sort of like pancakes and are made from yeast, and are essentially a fluffier English muffin. Brits often dress up their crumpets with butter or jam and of course, a cup of tea. Yum!

10. Spain – Bocadillos (Montaditos)

DSC04075

In addition to tapas and their other world-famous foods, Spain boasts these delicious treats called bocadillos. Bocadillos are essentially crusty, spanish bread topped with any of the toppings or fillings that your heart desires. We visited a very popular bocadillo restaurant called 100 Montaditos, where on Wednesdays any montadito is only 1 Euro. These make for a perfect snack at any time of day.

So, am I the regretful mess like I thought I would be?

Guest Blogger: Dolly Ahmad, Program Assistant at the Study Abroad Office, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

I arrived in Istanbul just over 8 hours ago, and have been in my apartment for 6 hours. I thought it would be pretty clever if I posted the conversation me and my sister had just now because I pretty much just recapped everything eventful that just happened, and to answer the question that is on everyone’s mind; is Dolly a regretful wreck like she thought she would be? It would be like the Picasso of blog posts. And would NOT be inspired by laziness, pshh….(goes on to copy and paste convo)

Well that didn’t work out, but believe me I tried, and I am going to leave that paragraph up there so you guys know how much trouble I go through for you all 😉

Lets start with the flight: My first flight landed in London, I had a WINDOW SEAT!!

tumblr_inline_mhtop17Ti71qz4rgp

Aww yehh I never get those. Then then then my neighbor ended up being another study abroad student except she was from Harvard so she was almost as good as me. Kidding, she was actually super super friendly, we quickly started talking. We were even asked to convert to Mormonism together and took the MTD BUS that takes you from one side of London Heathrow airport to the other together. It was quite chill. Then we parted ways, and I felt the cold breeze of loneliness.

When we landed in Turkey, I had the biggest stupid smile on my face getting off of the plane, and that is VERY unlike me so I must have really felt great at the time. Or was it sleep deprivation? Either way, I was incredibly happy to be in Turkey, just immediately. Then my excitement turned into anxiety when I was looking for the lady I was supposed to meet, a good friend of a cousin of mine. But my anxiety was short lived because I found her extremely quickly! Somebody must have done amazing dua for me because I had the easiest time ever in my journey, alhamdulillah. These are really just a few examples.

So the lady I met, named Zehra, turned out to be the loveliest person ever, period. She was SO SWEET and incredibly selfless, it was a true blessing to have met her. We ended up taking a subway (“metro”) then a bus then a taxi to get to my apartment from Ataturk International Airport. Which ended up not being…too terrible…, but, I was not prepared to be plop in the busiest part of the city, lugging my fifty pound suitcase + more luggage through flights of stairs to catch the bus. The number of complete strangers that grabbed my bag and attempted to help me with my luggage was incredible and left me so touched that it ended being well worth the struggle.

We were so relieved when we were finally at the apartment, and I was ECSTATIC when I saw how lovely the apartment was. These pictures dont do it justice, but I will upload them anyways because I promised you fools more pictures.  Click here for photos.

Downside; it is ON THE FIFTH FLOOR WITH NO ELEVATOR! But then again, I won’t be spending precious time here going to the gym so we’ll call it my daily workout.

After I put down my bags, me and Zehra went to go eat, which, like the taxi and bus rides, I WAS NOT ALLOWED TO PAY FOR! What a selfless person. Zehra treated me better than I will probably treat my future kids, it was just too nice. Too too nice, I didn’t deserve any of it. We parted ways but made plans for the weekend.

And then I came back to my apartment and I officially met one of my roommates, who is great. And she told me that she is meeting with a lady tomorrow TO GET A KITTY!!! Except they are afraid that the kitten will fall out the window since we are so high up and the house is well endowed [with windows], and said windows do not have netting as a barrier and will be open during warm whether since we don’t have air conditioning…:( I hope I never have to witness that.

I really need to tell you all about the neighborhood and its streets and how much I LOVE IT, it is incredibly charming and reminds me faintly of streets in Saharanpur, my hometown in India. But I want to take decent pictures before I go on and describe it, so please ya’ll wait.

I’m so enchanted by Istanbul right now, its beyond incredible. I can’t even explain, there is just nothing not to love, and so far I’ve had what seems like very powerful duas working in my favor (thanks everyone). So hopefully that answers your question regarding the title of the post 🙂

Please stay tunedd because next time I will grace you with pictures of Rumeli Hisarustu, my lovely but hill-y neighborhood that I am OBSESSED with! I stuck my head out the window and stared at it for 15 minutes, taking it in. The neighbors threw a shoe at me. (jk) I’m actually afraid pictures might not do it justice, it is more of an experience than just a visual. Like you have to be able to smell the kabobs from the hundreds of restaurants here while walking down an acute angle-type hill to really appreciate it. But I will try and convey the beauty of it to you all 🙂

Time for some sleep.

4 Ways to Help You Get Started Studying Abroad

SAO 11

Guest Blogger: Alicia Daniels, Program Assistant at the Illinois Study Abroad Office

Here at the Illinois Study Abroad Office we get an array of questions ranging from “what schools are most similar to the University of Illinois” to “what city has the best student life?” However, one of our most frequent inquires is the age old question “how do I even get started trying to study abroad!?” Well you are in luck, from the comfort of your own couch I will tell you four ways that helped me plan my international abroad experience!

  • Decide what you want out of your academic experience.

Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime experience. You meet people from around the world, visit breathtaking monuments, and (depending on your location) can travel to other countries as well. However, we must remember the study in study abroad. You don’t want to end up at an institution you don’t like for 4-6 months just because it is in Italy! Figure out how studying abroad fits in with your academic goals. Ask yourself, do you want to take general education classes or fulfill major requirements? Does your college restrict you from taking certain classes away from campus? Thinking about your academic future can definitely help you narrow down your choices for which program you would like to apply to.

  •  Speak to your advisor.

Your home university advisor is not around to just send you pesky e-mails about class registration! Use their guidance to help you decide which classes you can take abroad and how this will affect you once you return from overseas. Here at the University of Illinois we have a specific set of advisors in each department that specialize in helping students choose classes that will keep their academic career going. Click here to see this great resource and contact your Study Abroad 299 advisor today!

????????????????????????????????????????

  • Where do you want to live?

The study abroad experience allows students to enjoy a variety of locations in over 60 different countries. So many options can provide a variety of living experiences. Think of what type of environment you want to live in abroad. Do you prefer something similar to your home university? Would you like to be in a small rural city or large city? How comfortable you are with figuring out public transportation? Would a host family or dorm life be a better fit for what you want out of your study abroad program? Questions like these helped me choose my perfect host university!

  • Visit your Study Abroad Office!

It is true that the study abroad experience is a lot of independent research and decision making; however, your Study Abroad Office is always here to help you! One of the best ways to get started is visiting your local SAO advisors and staff. Sometimes talking to someone is the best way to figure out what you really want in regards to leaving the country. Program Assistants at the Illinois Study Abroad Office are students just like you who needed guidance on how to study abroad and now we look forward to helping you out in the same way! Please come visit to talk about your study abroad experience today!

SAO2

Learning outside the Classroom in Rural Senegal

Guest Blogger: David Silberberg, Program Assistant at the Illinois Study Abroad Office

Study abroad is an opportunity not only to learn in foreign institutions, but also to learn outside the classroom. Taking a step outside your comfort zone into a place unlike anywhere you have been can be a learning experience that cannot be replicated in any school, at home or abroad. When I studied and interned in Senegal for a semester, I realized that while my classes were certainly great, what made the experience invaluable was the time I spent in places that where far different from anything I was accustomed to in the US. The most profound of these experiences was the time I spent with my internship or host family in rural areas–villages that often lacked electricity or running water and usually had no more than a few hundred residents. Coming from suburban Los Angeles and the University of Illinois, this was something I had never encountered. Even for many Senegalese people, this lifestyle is foreign. The World Bank estimates that 43% of the population is urban, with that number becoming larger each year.

IMG_2200

One of the many villages in the area north of the Saloum Delta

For Americans, hearing or seeing pictures of these villages may evoke feelings of disbelief or pity. For some, this is the quintessential image of sub-Saharan poverty–the small village with simple huts and no utilities. However, being able to visit some of these villages and those who live there reveals a far different reality, showing that these conceptions are deeply misguided.

Village life for many is a exactly as they would like it. Everyone works together: farming, raising animals, building houses, taking care of children. Everyone knows their neighbors, and lives are free of the distractions that have come to define our lifestyles. Without television, cell phones, lights to keep us awake all night, car exhaust, noise, and more, life becomes much simpler, but also much more relaxing and, for many, more rewarding.

Who wouldn’t like to spend a while hanging out under that tree?

Several of my host family’s relatives would live in town to go to school and then return to the villages whenever they had a break. My host father would often go spend time (sometimes taking me along) in the village where he was born and where his mother and brother still live. My host brothers often talked about how after they worked in the city and made enough money, they would like to retire and live in a village.

This is not to say that rural life is better than city life. Of course, there are many challenges and issues facing those who live in villages. But what makes life in villages enjoyable is the lack of the things that we cannot imagine living without in our daily lives–TVs, cars, smartphones, computers, etc. Even more, however, is the lack of rent, boring corporate office jobs, mortgages, loans, debt, bills, and the list goes on forever. To sum it all up in one word, rural life is relaxing. Which is something that I think everyone could appreciate, even if it means no iPhones.

IMG_2440

passing through a village on a hot day

Making the Most of Your Surroundings: My Weekend Excursion to Croatia

Guest Blogger: Cristina Valdez, Program Assistant at the Illinois Study Abroad Office
DSC06648
No matter if you’re abroad for winter break, summer break, a semester, or an academic year, it’s important to optimize your time and take advantage of the country to the fullest. Of course, the studying part of being abroad is extremely important; but part of being abroad also includes enjoying the culture, scenery and adventure. This was one of my main goals as I embarked on my study abroad semester to Sweden. During these six months, I was able to ravel to 9 different countries, and one of my favorite weekend excursions was to Zadar, Croatia. Croatia itself wasn’t necessarily on the top of my travel list, but after attempting to book a trip to the Greek Island of Santorini with my friend Jessica with no success, we received a recommendation from another friend who raved about her time spent in Croatia, so we decided, why not?! The flight from Stockholm was extremely affordable and it cost us a little over $100 roundtrip! Jessica and I researched the area beforehand, and had a clear plan of all the activities we wanted to participate in, but once we arrived in Zadar we were enthralled by captivatingly blue waters and a city that was riddled with adventure.
263231_10151686964153023_305781530_n
Since we only had three short days to spend in the area, we began to explore as soon as we arrived. On our first day, we rented bikes from our hostel and headed towards the Old Town. Zadar is divided into two parts, and the Old Town harbors a lot of historical sites and ruins, and it remains impeccably preserved. Bikes and cars are not allowed inside the gates of the Old Town, and the area is routinely cleaned by city employees.
1096_10151686910868023_420925136_n
Zadar is located on the coast of Croatia, and is home to the Adriatic sea. The beach is accessible from essentially anywhere in the city. While walking around, we would often discover stairs leading down to the beautiful water. The Adriatic sea is the third cleanest sea in Europe, and the water is crystal clear, (literally!).
574680_10151686919643023_718758488_n
During our second day, we took advantage of an excursion offered by our hostel. Hostels definitely come in handy when attempting to plan excursions or getting to know local culture or cuisine while visiting a new city. In my experiences, hostel staff has been quite friendly and eager to help. Our excursion was kayaking in Zrmanja! The scenery left us dazzled. Only in photos had we seen such beautiful nature! We stopped at this gorgeous waterfall for lunch, and later on, an even lager waterfall followed:
923236_10151686930488023_170967015_n942568_10151686933233023_425694221_n
The excursion lasted all day, and in total we kayaked 14 kilometers, which is almost 8.5 miles!! What a thrill!
 After recuperating from our kayaking adventure, the next day we explored the Perivoj Raljice Jelene-Madijevka gardens and the ruins of the old city. The gardens were filled with blooming flowers, which was perfect for the wonderful spring weather. In addition, we ventured over to the Archeological Museum and the Museum of Ancient Glass, where we observed a professional glass blower in action.

These are only a few of the incredible activities I was able to do in Zadar, and it was truly an phenomenal experience that allowed my friend Jessica and I to wholeheartedly immerse ourselves in the Croatian culture and to explore a country that was previously somewhat unknown to us.

Zadar was beautiful, and the sunsets, even more so. I’ll let the picture speak for itself.
401908_10151686926398023_243584134_n
I would advise any student abroad to fully take advantage of any free time outside of classes or studying. Though studying is the main priority, it’s important to also get to know one’s host country and host city. Then, if feasible and affordable, explore the rest of the region or neighboring countries. Though not all continents are as accessible for travel like Europe, no matter where you’re studying abroad you should be prepared for the adventure set before you. All you have to do is look outside your window!

Food Tourism

Guest blogger: Dolly Ahmad, Program Assistant at the Illinois Study Abroad Office

Food tourism is defined as “the exploration of food as the purpose of tourism.” It has recently started being considered an integral part of the tourism experience. What’s little known about it, though, is if you look the phrase up in the dictionary, you will find a picture of me. I’m holding some sort of Turkish food in my hand, face shining with a smile, somewhere in the streets of Istanbul. Yes, I am the long unknown mascot of food tourists across the globe and Istanbul is my kingdom.

All ridiculousness aside, there is something about food tourism that I find so thrilling. And it’s not that my whole life and reason for existence is about food when I am being a food tourist, or at least I hope. I like to think that it just means that when we food tourists embark on our adventures for the day, we like to designate a particular food as the end goal. At the end, however, the day was not about the goal; it was about the path taken to reach that goal. When I set out at 7am one morning in search for Kemalpaşa tatlısı, I ended up not liking the dessert. But that was not a failure of a day because the thing about food tourism is that it is not about the food under pursuit; that was just a fraction of the day’s adventure. It was about the friends I made by asking “want to wake up and get Kemalpaşa tatlısı with me?” It was about the shopkeepers and bus drivers to whom we talked in order to find a café that sold it. After finding the café, it was about the feel of the café’s quaint little street with the street cats playing and the elderly Turkish uncles having their tea. We food tourists are not just children chasing the ice cream truck just to eat the ice cream, but adults using ice cream as an excuse to run. Indeed, we are a tasteful and classy bunch of adventurers [gulps down an entire ice cream cone Homer Simpson style].

There is no place better for a food tourist than Istanbul with it’s, what I like to call, “cay [tea] culture.” Think about cay culture as the extreme opposite of fast food culture. It is about taking a break from your day and sitting down with friends instead of eating for convenience and speed. It is about dipping each piece of your morning toast into a different jam instead of slathering one type on the entire slice so it can be eaten on the go. It is about finishing off the meal with as many glasses of tea as it takes for the conversation to die down instead of pouring it in a to-go mug. (It is also about my professor coming in late to lecture so he could finish his tea). In short, cay culture is heaven for food tourist. While Turkey is not the country with an eminent cay culture, its one of the most unique. Its location across two continents lends a unique blend of European, Middle-Eastern, and Central Asian tastes to the cuisine.

With that, I begin my foray into the top 5 foods I have pursued in Turkey and the best locations to have them. Keep in mind as you read that this is not simply a list of foods, but a list of experiences.

 

1. Ortakoy Waffle by the Bosphorous

Ortakoy Waffle by the Bosphorous

Here in the US, we traditionally have waffles for breakfast. In Turkey, you could have it for breakfast, but it’s a bit like having ice cream for breakfast. You would have a bellyache all day. This is not a limp, lifeless freezer waffle. This is a waffle topped with your favorite spreads, and you get to pick them. Think of your favorite ice cream flavors – now imagine them as Nutella spreads. Yup, it’s real. Now add your favorite fruits. You’re not done yet buddy; you still have to pick your favorite nuts and chocolate chips. Want share the bellyache with a friend? Have it served to you at a rooftop café in Ortakoy. Want to sit on the stair steps by the shore and eat it? Get it wrapped into a cone and grab it to go. That, my friends, is the Turkish waffle that calls to me in my dreams.

 

2. Ortakoy Kumpir

2. Ortakoy Kumpir
Photo from bp.blogspot.com

Now across from the waffles stands in Ortakoy are Kumpir stands. It’s traditional to get a Kumpir before and a waffle both when you visit the Bosphorous-side area, but hats off to you if you can stomach them both. What is a Kumpir you ask? Oh you know, you’re average baked potato. NOT. It’s anything but average; it’s a baked potato on crack. You know those award-winning potato and pasta salads that your aunt brings to family barbeques? Those are your options for the fillings. There are peas, corn, and other vegetable-y delights as well to balance out the fat if you dare. I was never a baked potato buff but my friends who were told me it is heaven. To be honest, I was usually too busy looking forward to the waffle when I was in Ortakoy to shower the potato with the love that it probably deserved.

 

3. Sahlep from in the Spice Bazaar

3. Sahlep from in the Spice Bazaar
Photo from getaway.co.za

Honestly kids, forget about hot chocolate. Trust me and trade it in for an orchid-infused steamed milk drink with a sprinkling of cinnamon on top. If it makes you feel better, think of it as white hot chocolate and chug it down. And thank me for introducing it into your life. This drink was my personal favorite and can be found year round in most cafés. I, however, far prefer to order it at on a cold day in the midst of a shopping expedition through the Grand Bazaar. Careful not to burn your tongue! It happened to my friend and she refused to drink it again. What a shame.

 

4. Eminonu Balikli Ekmek

4. Eminonu Balikli Ekmek
Picture from baycc.org

Eating fish right after it is caught is only a dream for us chummy Midwesterners. Alas, we will always have to frozen fish imported from somewhere off of the East coast. In Istanbul, however, a town famous for its fishing, frozen fish is not an option. Especially when there are boats where you can buy freshly made fish sandwiches from. Even if you are not a fan of fish, which I am not, you have got to eat a balikli ekmek sandwich in Eminonu for the experience. Do it just because you will never get to eat fish so fresh. You might get to eat the eyeballs too if you’re lucky.

 

5. Maraş Dondurması by the Blue Mosque

5. Maraş Dondurması by the Blue Mosque

 

I know you. You think that you’ve eaten ice cream. Listen buddy; you haven’t. You’ve only had the watered down, artificially flavored lifeless remains of what ice cream could be. You will only have experience ICE CREAM when you’ve had Maraş Dondurması. And you will only have experienced ice cream when you’ve had it on the courtyard of the Blue Mosque with the prayer call sounding and pigeons landing around you. Let me tell you what makes Maraş Dondurması special; it comes from a special region in central Turkey where the goats are sent from heaven (kidding about the last part) and is infused with mastic. Mastic is the same ingredient that gives chewing gum its chew, so as you can imagine, the Turkish ice cream has a very thick consistency. It stretches like melted mozzarella when you take a bite and, if you get it served on a plate, requires a fork and knife to eat. If you could only try one food in Turkey, his would have to be it. Try it as the traditional orchid or pistachio flavor, the better.

5 Tips On How to Be the Best Frequent Flyer

Guest Blogger: Alicia Daniels, Program Assistant at the University of Illinois Study Abroad Office 

Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330

Let’s be honest, we don’t choose to study abroad to be two hours away from home! As exciting as it may be to take in the sites of the “Big Buddah” in Hong Kong or the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France we must realize it takes A LOT of time to travel to these places and more often than not we have to get there by plane. From personal experience, I can say that traveling around the world in a high speed Boeing is no walk in the park – unless you’re flying first class. From “stuffed” ears to the delicious boxed meals, sometimes the only thing that kept me going was the thought that I would soon be scarfing down delicious gelato in Rome. Since, I think everyone should capitalize on the opportunity to study abroad I want to share my 5 helpful tips for flying 30,000 feet high in comfort and style!

Tip 1: Drink Water

As much as your parents encouraged you to drink tons of water as a child, I’m afraid to say they are absolutely right! The cabin air is not humidified on a plane and this leads to chapped lips, dried nasal passages and thirst that needs to be quenched. Yikes! However, you should never fear, drinking water can negate all of these symptoms. Many kiosks and stores in the airport sell water bottles after security so stock up and avoid dehydration in between those free cups of soda and juice!

drinking-water

Tip 2: Bring Travel Size Hand Sanitizer 

This may seem like a small request but it will help out your health in the long run. As you walk through customs and security you will be coming into contact with many people. Traveling, as fun as it may be, does make your immune system pretty low. One way to negate that is to bring hand sanitizer. Walgreens or any local drug store sells TSA approved sizes of sanitizer that can help you avoid some of the flu and cold germs you may encounter.

Tip 3: Bring Healthy Snacks 

Sure long distance flights have in-flight meals, however, you may get hungry in between. Buying snack foods such as nuts, granolas, carrots, etc. can help curve those hunger pains until the flight attendants come around again.

tumblr_lobk18jCwk1qca9py

Tip 4: Pack Light in Your Carry On Luggage

The under seat luggage storage is becoming as small as Alice after drinking her shrinking potion in Wonderland. I would suggest to pack only the basics in a carry-on to alleviate weight and stress when traveling. Make sure you have your required travel documents – passport, acceptance letter from foreign university, visa, etc. – along with an mp3 player and headphones of choice to zone out during the flight!

Tip 5: Get up & Walk Around

…only when your seatbelt sign isn’t on though. For some students, flying around the globe to the Philippines or New Zealand will take almost half a day! I don’t know about you, but sitting slightly upright above the Earth sounds more of a job for an astronaut than your regular day citizen. Being in that position for so long can cause swelling in the feet and ankles because there is such low cabin pressure, as well as dry air. Along with my number 1 tip of drinking water, walking up and down the aisle during safe times can help alleviate this issue. So go ahead, nudge your neighbor and get out of that middle seat – walking around can help your body so you can hit the ground running to your host university…and it isn’t so bad to use that as an opportunity for a potty break too!

safety-abroad-home

Why Study Abroad in Jordan?

Guest Blogger: Crystol Dejohnette, Program Assistant at the Illinois Study Abroad Office

Why Travel to Jordan? Well… if you want to challenge yourself and perspectives during study abroad, Jordan is a great option. The culture is very different from U.S. culture, Jordanians often have very different values than we do, and the country is majority Muslim. With all this difference there is still an element of comfort. Many students find Middle-Eastern culture to be very friendly and hospitable. For example, it’s not uncommon for you to be invited for tea after chatting with a stranger.

Jordan is also a place of great diversity. It’s found in it’s culture, it’s religions, and even it’s geography.

As a majority Sunni Muslim country, Islam and its values are reflected virtually everywhere you go. But Islam is not the only religion practiced there. There is a significant population of Christians as well as a much smaller population of people practicing other religions. Jordan is included in the region known as the Holy Land which features sites that are significant to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. So when traveling and meeting people in Jordan you’ll soon learn that there is a strong culture of respect for others’ religion and beliefs.

King Abdullah I Mosque

King Abdullah I Mosque

The Altar of the First Byzantine Church

The Altar of the First Byzantine Church

Often called the heart of the Middle East, Jordan has a central location and has seen the rise and falls of some the world’s greatest civilizations and empires.  Because of this it also maintains a very rich historic legacy.

The region that is now the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was once a part of the Byzantine Empire and many of its remnants can be seen today. In fact, it’s quite easy to find ancient ruins in Jordan. The most popular ones are the city of Philadelphia which is in the capital city of Amman.

Remains of the Temple of Hercules at Philadelphia

Remains of the Temple of Hercules at Philadelphia

Roman Amphitheater in Amman, Jordan

Roman Amphitheater in Amman, Jordan

Other civilizations also flourished under the Romans. One of the most famous one is the Nabatean Kingdom which is responsible for building the city of Petra in the southern region of Jordan. Petra, a city carved out of rock has to be the most glorious site I’ve ever been to! If you go be sure to go early in the day because it’s huge and there is oh so much to explore!

The Treasury in Petra

The Treasury in Petra

jordan6

Petra

While in Jordan I was amazed because despite it being in midst of the most politically heated and war-torn regions of the world, it is safe and people there can retain a sense of normalcy in their daily lives. We visited an area in the north of Jordan where you could see the Golan Heights of Israel and very far in distance the border of Syria and it was one of the most peaceful and humbling experiences I had while there.

The Golan Heights

The Golan Heights

We also got a chance to swim in the Dead Sea as well as the Red Sea and each time we were able to see Israel on the other side. At those moments it was hard to imagine that a major conflict was occurring but it was really nice to see people coexist as best they could in light of the situation. I encourage any students interested in learning about the Middle East or Jordan specially to consider studying abroad there. While in Jordan I learned about a region and a society where there’s way more to see than what usually meets the American eye. In Jordan you’ll find a culture that’s rich in history and diversity and is also very eager to meet you!

The 2014 Global 298: Immigration and Intergration Class standing over the Red Sea at sunset

The 2014 Global 298: Immigration and Intergration Class standing over the Red Sea at sunset

Explore The World Like No One Is Watching

Travel Stock PHOTO

Guest Blogger: Alicia Daniels, Program Assistant at the Illinois Study Abroad Office 

“We should come home from adventures, perils, and discoveries every day with new experience and character.” –Henry David Thoreau

Before I stepped a toe into any airport to fly solo to the United Kingdom, I spent months combing over blogs, government sites, and even Pinterest – I’m ashamed to reveal that last source – in failed attempts to piece together clues about what my study abroad experience may look like. Although I have lived in several countries in Europe before I never visited the city my program was being held. I was finally bursting out of the “campus-life” bubble and, even though that feeling was invigorating, the idea of not being around familiar surroundings was terrifying!

However…I made it sixth months “across the pond” and returned home –for the most part- unscathed (sorry for those impromptu ear piercings in France, Mom and Dad)! The most rewarding moments I had abroad were the times that I traveled off the beaten path and explored the cities I was so fortunate enough to be in. Here are three tips that helped me make the most of my time outside of the classroom:

Talk to the locals. “But what if they realize I’m a foreigner?” Well you are, so embrace it! Don’t worry if you think a native will judge you; chances are they will find you to be a novelty and will want to know more about you too. Plus, you may even pick up a few new friends along the way. Locals are a great resource to understand a city’s public transportation system, the best eateries, and the coolest places to blow off steam after long nights of studying.

Istanbul Coffee Shop Stock Photo

Don’t be afraid to look like a tourist. Grab a map, your camera, and just go! Your study abroad program will go by much quicker than you think. Before school starts and things really pick up try to map out some tourist locations you would love to visit around town. You may think you’ll have 4-6 months to see it all but between finals, making friends, and traveling you may miss out on some hidden gems located in the city of your host university.Huff Post Stock Image - Blog Post

Travel light on the weekends. If you study in Europe, you’ll soon find out that historic towns with cobblestone streets – although completely gorgeous – are not great for rolling around luggage. If you are taking weekend trips to a neighboring city try limiting yourself to a backpack. You really only need the essentials and it will be much easier to carry if you have to wait for a train or need to pass time outdoors until your hostel room is ready.The Abroad Guide Stock Photo - Blog Post

Fear of the unknown is absolutely normal but don’t let that deter you from exploring something new! Let’s be honest, you’re most likely going to get lost at one point during your journey but you’re also going to come back with memorable experiences and tons of pictures that will make all of your Instagram followers terribly jealous.