We’re hiring! Want to be a peer advisor?

The Towson Study Abroad office is hiring for two peer advisors to start in Fall 2015. Want to join our awesome team? Read on.

What does a peer advisor do?

– Greet and assist visitors in the Study Abroad Office. These can be students, faculty, parents, staff, you name it.
– Answer the phone and schedule appointments for the full time staff.
– Assist with data entry in our online application system.
– Conduct Study Abroad 101 information sessions.
– Attend and staff office events such as orientations and study abroad fairs.
– Present in classes throughout campus to promote the study abroad experience.
– Work with staff on projects such as newsletter, photo contest, scholarship process and many more.

Am I qualified?

– If you are currently abroad or have recently returned from an approved TU study abroad program, you are eligible to apply.
– Applicants should have some previous work experience in an office setting.
– Communication is key! Written and verbal representation of our office is important.
– Experience with Adobe products, Microsoft Office and social media platforms is extremely useful.
– Applicants should be detail oriented, flexible, and have a great sense of humor!

What else?
– Starting salary is $8.00 an hour.
– Applicants must be able to work 10-15 hours per week for at least two consecutive semesters. Some evening and weekend hours are required.
– We’re pretty cool people. We love to travel and work with the Towson community to increase study abroad knowledge and opportunities around campus. If that sounds like fun to you, get that application in.

Application Instructions

For full consideration please complete the Study Abroad Peer Advisor Application by Monday, April 6, 2015. The application be found online here: http://goo.gl/forms/hS7MaKh7cV

Please contact Kelly Holland with any questions or concerns at kholland@towson.edu or 410-704-2451.


Study Abroad Sweet 16

Are you rooting for Kentucky? A fan of the Blue Devils? Crossing your fingers for the Cinderella upset? Whatever your hopes for your bracket or your team, we’ve found a few ideas for you.

In the spirit of March Madness, we’ve selected our own study abroad Sweet 16. We can’t make a bracket because we think every one of them is a winner. (See what we did there?)

Check out our staff picks for summer and fall programs with deadlines still open for application!

photo courtesy of tvmedianinsights

photo courtesy of tvmedianinsights

  1. COSTA RICA: Summer 2015, Second Language Learning in the Costa Rican Cloud Forest
    1. April 3 deadline
  2. GREECE: Summer 2015, The Classical World in the Modern Imagination, Greece
    1. April 3 deadline
  3. INDIA: Fall 2015,  ISA Hyderabad, India: Indian Culture and Society
    1. April 15 deadline
  4. CHINA: Fall 2015, Alliance for Global Education: International Business in China
    1. April 15 deadline
  5. UNITED KINGDOM: Fall 2015, IFSA Butler- University of Edinburgh
    1. April 15 deadline
  6. AUSTRALIA: Summer 2015, TEAN Summer Internship Program
    1. April 17 deadline
  7. HUNGARY: Fall 2015, API Budapest, Hungary
    1. May 1 deadline
  8. SPAIN: Summer 2015, CEA Barcelona
    1. May 1 deadline
  9. UNITED KINGDOM: Fall 2015, AIFS Richmond
    1. May 1 deadline
  10. GHANA: Fall 2015 or Summer 2015 Session II, USAC Accra, Ghana
    1. May 1 deadline
  11. ARGENTINA: Fall 2015, ISA Buenos Aires
    1. May 1 deadline
  12. CZECH REPUBLIC: Fall 2015, CEA Prague, Czech Republic
    1. May 15 deadline
  13. SPAIN: Fall 2015, AIFS Granada
    1. May 15 deadline
  14. MOROCCO: Fall 2015, ISA Meknes, Morocco
    1. June 1 deadline
  15. COSTA RICA: Fall 2015, API Universidad Veritas Language & Culture
    1. June 1 deadline
  16. NEW ZEALAND: Fall 2015, TEAN University of Otago-
    1. Rolling admission

Alumni spotlight: Clark Rachfal

This post by Associate Director Kelly Holland is a result of her phone interview with Towson University study abroad alumnus Clark Rachfal. Clark is perhaps best known as a Team USA para-cyclist, who has been competing since 2007, but we know him first and foremost as a study abroad success story. We wish him well as he races this week in the Netherlands in the UCI Para-cycling World Championships! 

Study abroad can be a lot of things to a lot of different people. For Clark Rachfal, study abroad was an opportunity to “hit the reset button.” Enrolled at Towson as a double major in Economics and Political Science, he went looking for an off-campus experience where English was the primary language. Clark jokes that when he realized fall semester would be cold in the United Kingdom and summer in Australia, he quickly committed to Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, Australia!

Photo courtesy of Clark Rachfal Facebook: Segovia World Cup 2014

Photo courtesy of Clark Rachfal Facebook: Segovia, Spain World Cup 2014

The Annapolis native says, “Australia was somewhere I wanted to go in the world since I was a child.” What started as a fall semester extended to a full academic year, allowing him to study halfway around the world for ten months. ANU greeted him with a wide variety of students: Australians from Melbourne and Sydney, some American and Asian students, as well. Meeting new Australian friends allowed him to travel beyond Canberra and explore the country. Was there a difference between semester one and two? Clark says the first round was about personal growth, and the second round was about academics.

When asked what his family thought about his decision to go abroad and stay abroad even longer, he acknowledges, “My parents were scared shitless.” Growing up, the family had hosted au pairs from Norway, France, Australia, and Northern Ireland. Clark notes, “Whenever we could, our family would travel in the U.S.” and even had the pleasure of attending the wedding of a former au pair in France. “My parents ingrained the travel bug into me and my sister,” he points out. So why were they so scared about a semester in Australia after all this exposure to travel? Clark Rachfal is legally blind.

Diagnosed at age 4 with a degenerative retinal condition, both he and his family learned to adapt in many ways. Australia was an opportunity to meet new people and visit a new place, and he was fortunate to find support abroad as well. “Disability Support Services at ANU were awesome. They made the transition very easy,” Clark shares. It was in Australia that he hopped on a tandem bicycle and rode for 270 kilometers (about 168 miles) for three days as part of a fundraiser. Clark stopped riding a single bike around age 13 when it became too dangerous to do alone, riding his family’s tandem bike instead. In 2004 when his friends offered him the opportunity to get back on a bike he jokes, “I didn’t think they’d find someone who would let us borrow a tandem but they did!” Clark says it was important to be open to the idea but also credits his new friends as a support system: “I was growing more comfortable in my own skin, and they were trying to make [the ride] happen.”

The charity ride was when Clark first started to use a team for mobility. As it turns out, that long tandem bicycle ride was just the beginning. Clark would later return to Australia in Fall of 2005 to complete two independent studies and an internship with the Australian Legal Aid Society. He recalls being warned that the return trip would be different, and it was. “People, environment – that all changes. You yourself change.”

Photo courtesy of @usparacycling 3/24/15

Photo courtesy of @usparacycling 3/24/15

When asked about the challenges he faced while abroad, Clark is honest and candid with three moments for three different reasons. One, “the realization that I am there for classes and still had to study and write essays,” he jokes. Two, in between semesters when his mom came to visit and travel with him and returned to the States, he experienced homesickness. Last but not least, Clark acknowledges that there was a time when he realized being “a person with a disability as great as this is, there are still things that I can’t do.” When he speaks about returning home from Australia after that first year, he asks if Towson students are aware of reverse culture shock, recalling when he had to assimilate from Australian culture back to America culture after ten months abroad and how he didn’t know it would be an issue.

Challenges aside, Clark’s enthusiasm for study abroad and travel is evident. When asked what he would say to students who are considering study abroad or nervous about the experience, he says, “Few opportunities like study abroad are going to come up in your life. You almost have this opportunity to hit the pause button on reality, go gallivant around the world for an extended period of time.”

Clark’s para-cycling career took him back to Australia once more, racing in the World Cup in Sydney in 2011. Although Australia first stole his heart, Italy is also one of his favorite countries, “for people, experience, and culture.” When talking about another important piece of culture – food – he admits he is a “seafood snob,” thanks to his Annapolis upbringing and fondly remembers many BBQs in Australia where grilling out was a big part of the culture. A less fond memory is the time Clark mistook Vegemite for Nutella and slathered it on a piece of bread, only to throw the whole thing out after two bites — we can relate.

Thanks to Clark for taking the time out of his busy training schedule to speak with our office. Best of luck in the Netherlands!


Read more about Clark’s journey: 

Team USA biography: http://www.teamusa.org/para-cycling/athletes/Clark-Rachfal

Towson Alumni Magazine, Fall 2010: http://www.towsonalumnimagazine.com/towson/fall2010#pg18

“Annapolis resident to compete in para-cycling world championships,” http://touch.capitalgazette.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-82990690/

Matt takes on Europe!

Name:  Matthew Lenz

Major: Double Major in Business Administration: Marketing and E-Business

Graduation Year: Spring 2015

Hometown: Odenton, Maryland

Where I went abroad: City University – London, England

How I chose London

When I was in the beginning stages of the study abroad process, I was able to narrow my options down to three countries; Australia, Spain and England. I liked that Australia and England were English speaking countries. If I chose Spain I was committing myself to a Spanish culture and language on a daily basis. I only have 3 high school years of Spanish under my belt, so I was leaning more towards Australia and England. The Australia program was more expensive than the London program. The biggest draw to London for me was Europe. I knew that if I studied abroad in England, I would be able to easily travel to various countries in Europe.


My Special Day

Another draw to England was the English Premier League. I have been a Chelsea FC fan since I was a young boy. When I was growing up, my only connection to my favorite club was FIFA (a video game) and weekend games. I never imagined myself sitting at the game with thousands of other Chelsea fans.

The tickets were incredibly difficult to acquire. I ended up going to the game with a friend that I met in London.  His name is Christian and I met him in one of my classes. He lived in the UK and through his connections was able to get me and my roommates some tickets.

The day before the game, I could not sleep. I had over 10 years of excitement built up and tomorrow was the day that I would finally get to watch my favorite soccer team play…in London…at Stamford Bridge…it all seemed surreal.

Our seats were located in the Shed End (south) and I was 7 rows away from the pitch. One of my role models and favorite players (Frank Lampard) was 10 yards away from me. Chelsea ended up winning the game against Stoke City 3-1. I must have taken at least 100 pictures throughout the game and cheered until I had no voice. It truly was a special day!



My Trip to Spain

When I decided to study in London, traveling in Europe was very important to me. One of the places I was able to travel to was Spain, but I didn’t know I’d spend the night in the Barcelona airport or travel on a ferry with Spanish soccer fans during the biggest rivalry game in the country.

My roommates and I flew from Nice, France to Barcelona and then we were supposed to take a bus to Valencia (We had it all planned out in the cheapest way possible). However, our reservation, for whatever reason, did not go through. So there we were in Barcelona’s airport at 11 PM. We tried renting a car, finding a different bus or even looking for a last minute flight. Our only option was a train that left at 8 in the morning.  Being paranoid American travelers, we took shifts staying awake to “guard” our luggage.  Needless to say it was a long night….however we did end up saving money!

My journey from Mallorca to Barcelona was very interesting. We took a ferry, which we soon discovered was a very local way of traveling. The chaos all began when our non-English speaking cap driver dropped us off at the wrong boat. After waiting in line for 20 minutes we realized that we were in the wrong place and we only had 15 minutes until our ferry left without us. There were no taxis in sight and only 1.9 miles (according to google maps) to the correct location. My roommates and I then proceeded to sprint to the ferry, carrying all of our luggage. We made it there just in time, they were about to close the ramp to board.  My two American roommates and I were the only non-Hispanic people on the ferry and we were dripping in sweat. On the boat, El Clasico was taking place (One of the biggest rivalries in all of the sports world: Barcelona Fc vs Real Madrid Fc). There was a ton of yelling, screaming and angry Spanish men arguing all night long. It was certainly interesting!

These events were definitely not planned but looking back it made my study abroad experience even better. I loved Spain and I thought it was one of the best places that I traveled to.


Every student has this opportunity to study abroad and I think every student should take it.  Studying Abroad changed my life. I work in the Study Abroad Office at Towson University to assist students so that they can have this opportunity as well.

A Spring in Israel

Name: Maggy Kay

Year: Junior

Study Abroad Term: Spring 2015

Destination: Jerusalem, Israel

When deciding where to study abroad, what led you to choose your destination?

I have always wanted to study abroad in Israel. It wasn’t that I wanted to study abroad and then chose Israel. I knew that I wanted to study abroad here before I was even at Towson and made sure that all of the schools I applied to had study abroad programs to Israel.

Photo courtesy of Courtney N.

Photo courtesy of Courtney N.

Has your destination met your expectations so far? Why or why not?

Israel is amazing. I learn so much every day. I tried to approach study abroad without expectation because that way there is no limit on your enjoyment, but my experience so far has exceeded everything.

What has surprised you about the culture or lifestyle of your destination?

I do not think I will ever get used to not having a Sunday. In Israel the weekend is really just an early end to Friday through Saturday because that is when Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath is. Thankfully, I do not have class on Sundays, so I am able to still get my full weekend. When it is the weekend here all public transportation, restaurants, stores, basically everything closes to observe the Sabbath. It is nice to have a day of rest and to hang out with friends.

Photo courtesy of Courtney N.

Photo courtesy of Courtney N.

What challenges have you faced since arriving in your destination?

Language is definitely a challenge for me. While many people here do speak English, I am trying very hard to learn Hebrew. I have 10 hours of Hebrew courses a week, but I live with all English speakers, so I sometimes can’t practice my Hebrew as much as I would like. However, I am very good at shopping in Hebrew in the open air market.

What made you decide to study in Jerusalem over other locations, including ever-popular Tel Aviv?

Before I studied abroad in Israel for the semester I went on a program called Birthright, which is a ten day trip to Israel. I enjoyed my time in Tel Aviv, but it is very much a big city, and the “New York” of Israel. I instantly felt at home in Jerusalem and still do. Some people say that Jerusalem is the center of the world, and it truly amazing to see so many people with so many different backgrounds come to the same place.

Over Jerusalem

Photo courtesy of Courtney N.

Did you or your family have any safety concerns about studying abroad in Israel?

Of course, but I wanted to study in Jerusalem and in Israel. If I were to not study where I wanted to, then the people that cause these security concerns will win. I try to live my life as I want to live it while I am here, though I definitely do think about where I go, how I dress and who I talk to wherever I am going. Last Friday, there was another terror attack at the light rail station, maybe a mile away from I live. I checked in with my parents and told them that I was fine and actually sleeping while it happened and went on with my plans for the day.

Did you select your program for the coursework? If so, are you taking an Israeli/Jewish studies courses, and what topics are they covering?

I am in a program at Hebrew University of Jerusalem in their Rothberg School for International Students called the “Spring in Jerusalem” program. “Spring in Jerusalem” is an honors program in conjunction with Harvard University that has monthly lectures and requires you to take classes outside of the international school. I am taking two graduate level courses through this program, one called “Religion in Israeli Society”, and “Jewish Orientalism: Jews in the Orient.” I am also taking “Becoming Modern: An Introduction to Jewish History in the Modern Era,” and “Philosophy and Torah, Harmony and Dissonance: The Writings of Maimonides” through the undergraduate program.

Summer 2015 faculty-led application deadline extended!

Several faculty-led study abroad programs for Summer 2015 are still open for application!

Extended application deadline of FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2015.

Extended application deadline of FRIDAY, APRIL 3, 2015.

  • Spain/SPAN
  • Spanish Language and Culture in Spain
    • 4 weeks in Madrid: May 23 to June 21, 2015
      • Earn 6 credits: 3 credits of SPAN + 3 credits unspecified lower elective
    • 4 weeks in Madrid + 2 weeks in Alicante: May 23 to July 5, 2015
      • Earn 6 credits of SPAN

A complete study abroad application will include:

  • Application form found online by logging in at www.towson.edu/horizons 
  • Copy of your current passport or receipt proving passport application in progress
  • $250 non-refundable deposit by check or credit card
  • Copy of your transcript
    • Note: Some programs have pre-requisites, check the program descriptions!

Got questions? Contact our office at 410-704-2451 or studyabroad@towson.edu. 

Student Blogging: Oldenburg, Germany


Have you ever wondered what it would be like to spend a whole semester as an exchange student in Oldenburg, Germany, studying at the Carl Von Ossietzky Universitat? Then follow along with Michele’s blog as she explores this historic city over the Spring Semester! Join her on this adventure into the heart of Europe as she discovers new foods, new places, and new people!

Airplanes and Wanderlust


Michele Chen

Oldenburg, Germany

Spring 2015

Studying abroad & new vocabulary in Falmouth

Alexandra Press, a current Junior studying abroad in Falmouth, UK, sent us this story of what it’s like to move across the world for a semester.

Name: Alexandra Press

Year: Junior

Major: Acting

On Sunday, February 1st, 2015 I arrived at my new home for the next five months, Falmouth, Cornwall in England. I was relieved to be met at the bus stop by a few of my housemates who drove me to our house. They also helped me bring my bags up to my new, small-but-comfortable room. I was quickly introduced to my housemates. I found them very nice and since have grown fond of them. They’re an animated and entertaining bunch.

Everything is exciting, and everyone is friendly. But I haven’t been without my homesickness. I’m very close with my family and friends back home and I left behind my boyfriend. During the day I am around people and doing this so I’m alright. Nights are hard. I’ve already gotten a care package and my boyfriend sent me chocolates for Valentine’s Day, and all of this helps. But part of me can’t get over how long I will be here. One month is the longest I’ve ever been away from home, excluding living at school during the school year. Facebook is wonderful to stay in contact, but it’s also a constant reminder of everything I am missing at home. I’m looking forward to delving deeper into my studies. I think it will make the weeks pass by more quickly. Also, once the weather gets nicer I will be doing more outside and hopefully traveling. Don’t get me wrong, I’m already enjoying my time here. It’s just hard.

My first day in Falmouth was somewhat uneventful. I went to ASDA, the English equivalent of Wal-Mart, with my housemates, but then couldn’t go into town due to rain/hail. I wasn’t too surprised by the weather, but apparently hail isn’t common. Snow is even less common. This was a pleasant surprise since even worse weather will be common this time of year back home. So that’s a perk! The next day I was able to go into town with one of my housemates, Aishi. She’s actually the girl whose room I took, and is now out of the house now, but she was around to show me the ropes my first week.

Hunky Dory Restaurant

Figure 1 One of the many restaurants in town. I loved the name and the bright door!

I absolutely love town. It’s a short walk down the hill to get to all the shops and numerous pubs Falmouth has to offer. It’s rather lovely! Many of the pubs are stereotypical British with names like “The King’s Arms” and “Seven Stars”. It’s funny how living somewhere can blind you to things. Everyone I talk to is surprised when I say how exciting I find Falmouth. Talking to the students here you would think there are only two pubs and a grocery store. The fact that I have at least ten pubs, five pasty shops, and a dozen clothing stores within ten minutes walking distance from my house is absolutely wonderful to me! My campus isn’t in walking distance, but the bus I take to get there is only five minutes away and only a pound to ride with a student ID. I really have it pretty easy.

On Wednesday of my first week in Falmouth I started orientation. I and the other exchange students were given a tour of the two Falmouth University campuses. The university facilities are wonderful. Penyrn Campus, where I attend my classes, is very new and modern. It’s cheery and quite colorful. I was happy to find a café in the performance center where I will be spending most of my time. Their brownies are to die for.

During orientation week, we were taken to the Eden Project and to a beach for a surf lesson. Though the surf lesson was quite fun, going to the Eden Project was absolutely my favorite part of the week. It’s the site of three bio domes – two indoor and one outdoors. One of the indoor bio domes is a rain forest! It was absolutely beautiful and a little overwhelming. The air was so clear and smelled wonderful. They have a cacao plant inside and I was able to try a cacao bean! They’re too bitter to actually eat, but just sucking on them they’re pleasantly sweet. The other indoor bio dome is a Mediterranean climate. I could honestly live there. The plants and structures were gorgeous and the atmosphere was so relaxing. At the Eden Project we also walked around outside and went ice-skating! We also had lunch there and the food was amazing. It was expensive, but it’s all natural and green so totally worth it. I am absolutely set on going back to the Eden Project once spring has arrived so I can see it all in bloom.

Figure 2 A view of the bio domes at the Eden project. In spring, the hills are supposed to be bright and colorful.

Figure 2 A view of the bio domes at the Eden project. In spring, the hills are supposed to be bright and colorful.

On Monday the 9th, I started my first week of classes. I am taking four classes, two with the second year actors, one with the first year actors, and one with the first year theatre students. I quickly found my differences – good and bad – between Falmouth and Towson. The class schedules, “timetables” here, are not as strict as they are at Towson. What I mean is, the actual schedules varies from week to week. You are expected to check online for when you are in for classes because it isn’t always the same. Although this was an unpleasant discovery, Falmouth’s online portal is very easy and nice to work with so everything is really simple to find.

Figure 3 Right now, I'm still entertained by the little differences in vocabulary here like "Toilets" instead of "Restrooms".

Figure 3 Right now, I’m still entertained by the little differences in vocabulary here like “Toilets” instead of “Restrooms”.

So far, I like my classes and my “tutors”. My radio class and my acting for film class are going to be wonderful learning experiences. Falmouth has excellent TV and recording facilities that I will get to work with for class. For acting for film, we’re even going to a professional film studio nearby to shoot one of our scenes. I’m really excited for that. This week I will jump with a project and scene work.

Life in Greece: A Student’s Story

Name: Rachel Urban

Graduation Term: Spring 2015

Major: Speech Language Pathology and Audiology

Hometown: Amity Harbor, New Yorkgreece 183

So tell us about your trip to Greece.

I studied abroad in Greece during the summer of 2012. It was a Towson-led program, meaning a Towson professor, Dr. Ballengee, traveled with us to various cities. There were seven other Towson students from a multitude of disciplines who started as strangers and quickly became great friends. The course we took was about Myth, Ideology and Symbolic Spaces of Greece. Our classroom was often a hotel pool where we discussed our readings, or museums and sites we were able to explore. My favorite museum was the National Acropolis Museum. While constructing it, they discovered ruins in the ground that they preserved with glass floors over. You can look at ancient ruins in Athens while simultaneously looking at this bustling modern city. My favorite assignment was one day when Dr. Ballengee asked up to pick a piece in the museum, sketch it, and spend some time focused it. During my trip, I was able to try the Greek drink, ouzo, and determine that I much preferred Greek food. Some of my favorite dishes were moussaka, pastitsio (like a Greek lasagna), tzatziki (yogurt, cucumber, and garlic dip), taramasalata (fish roe dip), souvlaki (lamb) and, of course, all of the fresh seafood. I had taught myself random Greek phrases while anxiously waiting to go on this trip, and I was able to use them and expand upon my limited phrases. Though, in most cities, most people also know English. greece 072

Sounds like you had a great experience. Is there anything else you would like to share?

An excerpt from a journal entry: Upon returning to my room, I gawked at my balcony view. It was already dark, and the towns literally twinkle. The stars. The stars are pure light. Nature like this can’t go unnoticed. It makes me want to rethink my life for a brief moment. I feel like this could be my life. I could drop all my unneeded possessions, stop worrying about the silly hassles, and just enjoy every second of life in a beautiful place instead of 5 more years of school to have a successful, steady, American-dream life. On the other hand, as long as you’ve got some good people to share and make memories with, life is good. I’m constantly thankful for all the opportunities I’ve been given. I won’t ever let myself forget how beautiful the world is. No matter where life takes me, I’ll look for moments like this. I’ll stare at the stars that millions of other people have stared at, and remember that when it comes down to it, this is what life is about.

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