Where Do We Recommend?

China

Lindsey Robinson Fall 2012

We currently offer over 20 programs in China, including one of our exchanges, along with a faculty-led program. There are also countless opportunities to study abroad through program providers listed on our database.

Cuba

cuba_econ_2017_ciccotto-2-e1501092542657.jpg

Check out this Minimester program offered through one of our providers, AIFS, in Havana! You could also spend your Spring Break exploring Cuba.

Czech Republic

9_Jennah_Rahwanji_Prague_Czech

You could study Geography in the Heart of Europe, or maybe on a TU exchange through the University of New York – Prague. These are just two of our 24 options to study in the Czech Republic.

Ecuador

Kathleen Seale Fall 2012

Attend our faculty-led program going to the Ecuadorian rainforest, or check out the Summer and Minimester options that AIFS offers in the Galapagos.

Greece

Greece

Spend a semester in Greece though the American College of Greece (or one of our other providers), or maybe a Summer term through ISA. We have a few other options in Greece, too, just check out our full program listings!

Morocco

22_Jacqueline_Kuper_Morocco

Spend a summer learning Arabic in Morocco, or maybe partake in a semester-long service-learning experience through ISA. We have 10 programs offered in Morocco, and one might be exactly right for you!

South Africa

Barnes_Beach

With almost 20 options to study abroad in South Africa, you can’t go wrong! We have three faculty-led programs, including this one that could earn you Theater credit. You could also spend a full semester or year, through USAC or one of our other providers!

 

Don’t see what you’re looking for? Check out ALL of our program options on our database, Horizons.

Studying and Working Abroad: Q&A with Candace Ricks

Candace Ricks is a Towson University alumna who graduated in 2013 with her Bachelor of Science in Psychology. During the fall semester of 2012, she studied abroad with International Studies Abroad (ISA) in Meknes, Morocco, earning a certificate in language, politics, and culture. She is currently living and teaching abroad in Guangzhou, China.

ricks_morocco3

Q: What (or who) got you started and how did you choose your program? What would you consider to be the benefits of study abroad?

“One of the main questions I’m asked as an expat is ‘How did you get started with international travel?’ I’m always excited to reveal that my initial experiences were with Study Abroad. Travel had always been a life goal of mine, so when a friend revealed her plans to study in Africa with her school, being the curious Kitty that I am, I looked into opportunities at Towson’s Study Abroad office.

In search of real culture shock and growth, I finally chose Morocco, an ensemble of vibrant colors, music, and beautiful language. Navigating the database of programs was simple, so it wasn’t long before I stumbled upon International Studies Abroad. This Texas-based Study Abroad Company had been around since 1987 and offered a variety of programs in over 30 countries; I chose the Language, Culture, and Politics track.

Participating in Study Abroad was one of the best decisions I could have ever made during my undergraduate career. That semester I was the only Towson student to travel to Morocco, but I returned with many lifelong friends and new professional skills. For example, while there, I had the opportunity to lead a panel on Intercultural Communication Strategies, participate in a language exchange, and to visit historical sites throughout the country. This experience nurtured a new confidence in communication, offered perspective on real world issues, and gave me a true cross-cultural experience.”

Q: How did study abroad prepare you to work abroad? What is your daily life like working in China?

“Often I muse over how studying in Morocco exposed me to an alternative way of life in regards to scheduling, planning, and communicating. Where I’m from, we are direct, move quick and with a purpose. I learned fast that every country has its own personality and stride; tasting life abroad as a student first undoubtedly prepared me for being a professional in the real world.

I’m an educator so I’m constantly tasked with discovering new ways of being innovative and sensitive to the needs of those around me. The third largest city in China, Guangzhou is a hot, commercial center, with menus to die for. Home of Cantonese food, the Canton Tower, and the infamous Canton Fair, this is a city for the ambitious. Working in China is quite the experience for me, as I am employed by one of the largest language schools in China, and have my own personal pursuits on the side as a designer and mentor. Since I have an evening schedule, during the morning I usually attend mandarin classes, scour the markets, or discover the city in some other way. In the evening I head to work where I manage 16 classes of varied level students, and am tasked with planning creative lessons to keep them excited about learning. This isn’t always as easy as it seems, especially when you consider the differences in school culture across the world.”

Q: Have your experiences abroad met your expectations? Exceeded them?

“As I prepared to embark on this journey, I made sure to have no real expectations of those around me, only of myself. There were three things I promised I would do:

1)    Say yes more often

2)    Really pay attention to the people around me

3)    Take heed to the signs and opportunities for personal and professional growth

The friendships, family, and professional connections that I’ve created since stepping outside my comfort zone have empowered me to peel back the layers of humanity, revealing the world, revealing me. Of course there have been frustrating moments, scary moments, and plain disappointment, but with each of those comes an opportunity to learn, teach, and grow.”

Q: Your study abroad experiences were a large part of your time at TU and beyond. How have they affected your career path?

“Study abroad was an expansive experience that allowed me to see the true value of international education. Learning in the classroom is wonderful, but there are many things that a person can only gain through real world experience. Being exposed during undergrad equipped me with the idea that there were more non-conventional paths to the life that I desired. Teaching, public speaking, and organizing travel on my own, were only a few activities that led me to think outside the box.”

Q: Many study abroad alumni speak about an “ah ha” moment or a particularly powerful memory. What’s yours?

“The Western Sahara is extremely cold at night, especially just before dawn. Our group traveled out to the middle of the desert to camp for a few nights, and it was there I felt the sky, and tasted reality. This night I ended up alone, watching my group go off in front of me, scaling up and down the tall, soft sand dunes. I was tired, so once I reached the top of a particular dune, I planted my body right there. The shadows dwindled in the distance and it was just I, stretched out at the top of this mound, being flattened by the sky, and covered in the silence. I began to meditate, then to cry as I wondered how I got to be in such a beautiful place, with such beautiful people. I’d come so far and I didn’t want to go home, I felt at home right there on that dune, laid back watching nature go wild above me. On that dune, my love of a good view was born, and I was reminded that no matter what, whether alone or in a group, I would always honor my dreams and keep home inside me.”

Q: What would you say to students worried / concerned / afraid of studying abroad?

“Honor those feelings, and then immediately challenge them, along with the narrative that is leaving you afraid of going after what you want. You really only have two options, do it now or do it later, because it will not go away, the desire.

One of my favorite books of all time is The Alchemist by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho. This story is probably one of the most favorited amongst travelers because of the emphasis placed on the importance of ‘the journey’ for the protagonist. I suggest they read this book and make their own assumptions; I can guarantee they won’t regret it.”

Q&A Spotlight: Danielle Moore

Name: Danielle Moore
Major: Major: Mass Communications with a focus in advertising, journalism and public relations
Hometown: Logan Twp., NJ
Destination: Semester at Sea (Asia, Africa, Europe)
Term Abroad: Spring 2014 

Moore in the Sahara Desert, Africa

Moore in the Sahara Desert, Africa

Q: FOOD , your favorite subject & ours. Best dish? Worst dish? New recipe you picked up?

A: My favorite food, without question, was eating taiyaki in Tokyo, Japan, or what my friends and I like to refer to as “waffle fish.” Essentially, it is a pastry similar to the texture of a koi fish-shaped fluffy waffle, filled with traditional and popular flavors. A cultural favorite is the red bean stuffing, but I preferred the chocolatey goodness that tasted like a blend of melted milk chocolate and nutella. On the other hand, with a not so favorable palate, was the snake wine that I sipped in Guilin, China. If you want to know what venom tastes like, it’s in the form of dead snakes fermenting in bitter wine with cranberries and olives bobbing throughout.

Q: PLACES , talk about your favorite spot in your home away from home. Where? Why?

A: Before I left, what really resonated with me was the idea that with any other study abroad program, you can always jet set back to your favorite counties, but you can never fly back to the middle of the ocean on the MV Explorer—that’s where home is. You can’t meet your friends on the 7th deck to study in the open sun or grab a smoothie anymore like you can on land. Home meant seeing your favorite crew member Linval for every meal and hearing him greet you in his Jamaican accent or being rocked to sleep each night by the waves of the open seas. Sure, I would fly back to my favorite port in Vietnam, but living on the sea is what I fell in love with.

Watching the sunrise in Bagan, Myanmar from the peak of a temple

Watching the sunrise in Bagan, Myanmar from the peak of a temple

Q: TOP SECRET , did a local point you to a market, pub, or park you didn’t know about? Pass it on.

A: I’m not a big fan of orange juice, nothing personal against Florida or anything. However, I drank my weight in freshly squeezed orange juice while in Morocco. In the middle of the medina in Marrakech, situated between snake charmers and henna artists are carts loaded with fresh citrus fruits. For $0.20, you could drink sunshine.

Q: NOPE , are there things you don’t miss from your destination? What? Why?

A: One thing I do not miss are bucket showers in port. In developing counties, running water is a luxury and when you do find some, the water is guaranteed to be cold—or have frogs living in your shower like I had in Bagan, Myanmar. Also, try refraining from singing in the shower and accidentally swallowing some because the water is not treated and the bacteria will make you sick.

Crawling through the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam.

Crawling through the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam.

Q: YEP , you’re actually homesick for something from abroad. What? Why?

A: I miss all of my friends already. With Semester at Sea, you are on a ship with 550 other students from across the country. It’s definitely weird having to adjust to communicating with my friends through social media or phone calls. Honestly, some of us left the ship without exchanging phone numbers because we are accustomed to being within two minutes of one another for 4 months. On the bright side, when I travel on my cross-country road trip next summer, I will always have a free place to stay.

Q: SPEAKING OF , what new vocabulary have you added to your repertoire after study abroad?

A: With traveling to 13 different countries mixed with slang and jargon influenced from friends across the states, your repertoire becomes quite eclectic. On the plus side, I can say “thank you” in every language from Mandarin to Twi!

Q: SHOCKING , you could hardly believe your eyes when you saw … What? Why?

A: Everything I saw, smelled, tasted and heard was unbelievable to me. I walked through the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and still saw locals affected by Agent Orange from the war. I spent some time speaking with locals and when asked why the Vietnamese people are so hospitable and welcoming to Americans, the response was always, “we understand what happened in the war, but we don’t look at Americans as an entire culture because the best way to understand people is looking at each person individually.”

 

Sailing down the Lijiang river with the Misty Mountains of Guilin flanking either side of the river.

Sailing down the Lijiang river with the Misty Mountains of Guilin flanking either side of the river.

Q: WEEKENDS , full of travel. Where did you go? How did you choose? Was it difficult to plan?

A: There were no weekends—there were A Days, B Days and Port Days. While on the ship, your days were either A or B and days of the week became irrelevant. However, when in port, that meant a week without showering, packing your life up in a hiking backpack, recycling the same two shirts over and over and going into each country with the trust of locals and the guide of Lonely Planet books.

Q: TOUGHEST DAY , everyone has one. What challenged you while you were abroad? Why?

A: Even though I was only in each country for one week, it felt like a month. The most challenging thing with Semester at Sea is making a home out of a foreign country—crash courses in customs, language, nuances and rituals—then having to leave it for another place. My study abroad program didn’t train me to become fully immersed and fluent with a country’s culture, but it taught me how to keep an open mind, travel on a budget, be resourceful and most importantly how to trust in those around me. Here in the states, we are timid of strangers because we are an individualistic culture where in collectivist cultures like India, the people are eager to help.

Q: PARTING WORDS. What would you say to students worried / concerned / afraid of studying abroad?

A: Just go. The most expensive part about traveling is the plane ticket to get to each place. When traveling in Asia, I spent a total of $200 in three different countries over the course of three weeks on food, lodging, transportation, tours, and even souvenirs! I learned so much while I was abroad, aside from classes, about how small this world actually is because everything now seems so obtainable and realistic.

Posing with a group of scholarship recipients from the NGO Exponential Education in Kumasi, Ghana.

Posing with a group of scholarship recipients from the NGO Exponential Education in Kumasi, Ghana.

Journey to Emei Mountain

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to take a weekend trip away from the city with some of my close friends. My friends’ study abroad on-site advisor invited me along for their program’s excursion to 峨眉山 (Emeishan, or Mt. Emei).

Previously, I had heard about Emei Mountain from my kungfu master; namely, because it is known as the birthplace of a specific style of kungfu based off of the movements of monkeys that live on the mountain. The mountain is also known for its vast amount of Buddhist temples and a location at its peak called “The Golden Summit”.

On our way to Mt. Emei, we stopped to visit 乐山大佛 (Leshan Dafo, or Leshan Giant Buddha). The moment I finally laid eyes upon the sheer size of the stone statue made over one thousand years ago, I felt the weight and magnificence of the Buddha upon myself. It was breathtaking to behold and wonder about how such an enormous statue could have been conceived so long ago.

The morning after we arrived at Mt. Emei, I woke up around 5:00 A.M. to meet our group leader outside of the hotel to walk to a nearby temple and witness an early-morning Buddhist prayer session. As I listened and watched intently, I realized how amazing it was to have the opportunity to see something so special and unique in real life.

During the coldest part of the journey, the group took a bus ride up the side of the mountain to reach one of the highest points at Mt. Emei. From there, we had hike along a winding trail—with a very lively gang of monkeys causing mischief at certain times—until finally we saw The Golden Summit. Sadly, the weather at the top of the mountain wasn’t too clear; it was really wet and foggy in the atmosphere. However, we were still able to catch a glimpse of the massive golden statue on the summit for a few moments when the sun shone through the fog. My trip to Mt. Emei is truly an experience I will never forget.

Scott Knowles
Chengdu, China
Fall 2013

Daoism in China

While studying abroad in Chengdu, China, I have been able to explore many unique topics in more depth than I could have ever imagined.  Before I decided to study abroad in China I was very interested with the Chinese philosophy of Daoism. In fact, it wasn’t until I began researching for an English term paper about the subject that I decided to travel to China in the first place.

Given my interest in Eastern philosophy, when I heard that there was a “Daoism and Traditional Chinese Culture” class offered at Sichuan University I became incredibly excited and hopeful that the class would be available for me to enroll in upon my arrival in China. As luck would have it, I was able to secure a seat in the class and begin to learn about Chinese philosophy and religion from an expert in the Daoist studies. Professor Zhang not only took time to teach some preliminary information on the subject’s beginnings, but he also made it his goal to get the class out of the classroom to explore the some of the ancient religious sites nearby.

For one of our class field trips, we visited a place known as 青羊宫 (Qing Yang Gong). Qing Yang Gong was only a short bus ride away from my university, as it is located in the northwest part of Chengdu, in the Sichuan Province. Qing Yang Gong is the oldest and largest Daoist temple in southwestern China and is comprised of many different buildings within its enclosure. It is believed that the founder of Daoism, 老子 (Lao Zi), was reborn at Qing Yang Gong to attain his immortality, and later revealed the 道德经 (Dao de Jing, classic of Daoism) to Yin Xi, the keeper of the pass and last man to speak with Lao Zi before he left the earthly realm for Mount Kunlun, the gateway to paradise. It is because of this story that Qing Yang Gong has earned historical and cultural significance today. It is safe to say that any person who visits Qing Yang Gong will be able to feel the peaceful clarity in the air and enjoy their time there thoroughly.

Scott Knowles
Chengdu, China
Fall 2013 

 

 

Fall 2013 Photo Contest: Top Ten

G’Day Travelers,

Every semester we ask our students to submit photos of themselves during their time abroad for our bi-annual photo contest. The Fall entries include students who have studied abroad either in the previous spring or summer semester. The first round of voting happens in the office and on social media with the photographer’s name hidden and their image doing all the talking. Once the photos are narrowed down to the Top Ten, we post them at our pre-departure social, and our pre-departure orientation for fellow study abroad participants to vote on them. The photos below are of students whose photos made it into our Top Ten.

This semester, our winning photos will be hosted in the Honors College. Stop by Stephens Hall to take a look!

Enjoy!

China: Kung Fu Dream

When I was still living in America a little over a month ago, I had the privilege of coming into contact with a very special person to me. During my sophomore year at Towson I had become very interested in China and Chinese philosophy—namely Daoism. Since I was eager to learn all that I could about Daoism, I found myself searching on the internet for any scrap of information that I could grasp about the philosophy. Through my searching, I came across the e-mail address of a man named Li Quan. As it turned out, Master Li Quan had been training in traditional Chinese kung fu for longer than I have been alive, and operates a traditional school only a short distance from my place on Sichuan University’s campus. So, I reached out to Master Li Quan and asked if he would be able to teach me while I was staying for a semester in Chengdu, China; there was an astounding “yes”.

With my busy school schedule and other responsibilities, I cannot spend as much time at his school as I would like (considering it is about a 40 minute bus ride away from the campus), but I try my best to go at least two times every week. Master Li Quan is one of the nicest people I have ever met, and he always greets me happily. He speaks English fairly well, but requires that I speak in Chinese to him whenever I am able—this is great because I am trying to learn as much of the language as possible. On top of the strenuous exercises that he puts me through at his traditional school, he also teaches me about Chinese culture and Daoist philosophy. He feels that the only way to learn Chinese kung fu correctly is if it is coupled with lessons in the culture and language, too.

It is safe to say that I leave his training place very sore every time I come and go, but it is a feeling I look forward to. When I leave China in December to return home, I plan to continue practicing what I am being taught right now. There is an old Chinese saying that goes: “师父领进门,修行靠个人” (shifu ling jin men, xiu xing kao ge ren), it means that the master will show the way, but it is up to the individual (student) to discover and learn for himself.

Scott Knowles
Chengdu, China
Fall 2013