Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Student Spotlight | April 2012: Clint Brockway in Austria

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Clint Brockway is currently a first year graduate student in UALR’s Master’s of Liberal Studies Program.  Before he began his graduate school coursework, he had the unique opportunity to intern and research abroad in Austria.  He hopes that he will have another opportunity to conduct research in Austria during his graduate studies.

Last summer I was fortunate enough to travel over 15,000 miles during my 11 weeks abroad, and I landed myself in 8 different countries!  I completed a research-based internship at UALR’s Exchange Partner Karl FranzensUniversität in Graz, Austria.  As and undergraduate student of Interpretation American Sign Language and English, I began research on perceptions of ethical conduct for sign language interpreters in Austria and the U.S.

 CB 2

Austria | Summer 2011

Being the first student in the ASL department to do an internship abroad, some of the pre-departure logistics were difficult; however my studies abroad have shaped and strengthened my professional and academic goals.  As an interpreter there are many things to learn about being abroad and being on the receiving side of interpretation.  I am grateful to Dr. Linda Stauffer of the Interpreter Education Program at UALR, and Nadja Grbic of the Institut fϋr Theoretische und Angewandte Translationswissenschaft, who were helpful in arranging much of the logistics, and encouraging to intern abroad.  I quickly learned that Europe has had a long history with intercultural communication and professional use of several languages; this is a great learning environment for students who are studying interpreting or a foreign language.  ASL students are taught to communicate visually and think in images, being abroad and being forced to learn new signs, giving me a new perspective on sign language.  There are several interpreting behaviors that I have adopted in my professional interpreting that I learned while being abroad.

Before leaving my home in Arkansas, I had only taken one German language course.  With the help of UALR Professor, Dr. Jeanette Clausen, I was able to learn useful vocabulary and phrases before my trip to Austria.  When I finally arrived in Austria, I found that my biggest challenge was the abundance of languages in Europe. As an interpreter and language major this was absolutely amazing, but on the other hand it made collecting valuable and reliable data for the research difficult.  In order to overcome this challenge I was forced to seek out and use the available resources.  Knowing, understanding, and using available resources became key to conducting research, and has been translated to a useful lifelong habit.  My time in Austria was accompanied by a new and good friend Karin, she helped with arranging meetings with the Interpreting Association, learning the city, and translating documents.

My time abroad was not only limited to academics and research, but I was also able to travel, explore and enjoy various European cultures.  I went to historical sites, music festivals, national parks, and several countries all over Europe.  During my stay, a flat-mate invited me to visit her family in a small Austrian town, where we climbed the second largest mountain in the Northern Limestone Alps, and explored the caves of Dachstein.  This sense of community has been a unique and exciting experience; throughout my stay I felt like an important part of a community among great friends that continues even though we are living different lives.

CB 3

Northern Limestone Alps | Summer 2011

There is still much to be learned about interpreting and the Austrian culture.  I am hoping and planning to return in the next few years.  During my next trip abroad, I will again conduct research and hopefully attend the upcoming International Interpreting Conference in Austria.  If any students are interested in learning more about interpreting research and internships opportunities in Austria, please feel free to contact me via e-mail at

CB 1

Austria | Summer 2011

Joe Hulsey’s Return to Poland

Friday, March 16th, 2012

This fall Joseph Hulsey is a sophomore Anthropology major and International Studies minor at UALR, who will be UALR’s first exchange student to Poland.

Last summer Joe took his first flight all the way from Little Rock to Poland!  With other UALR students, he joined Faculty-leader Dr. Jacek Lubecki for a short term study abroad trip to Poland and Ukraine.  Joe’s first experience abroad is one that has had a lasting impact on his academic goals.

UALR Faculty-led Travel Course | Poland & Ukraine - Summer 2011

UALR Faculty-led Travel Course | Poland & Ukraine - Summer 2011 

For the 2012-2013 academic year, Joe will return to Poland and study abroad at UALR’s new Exchange Partner at the Eastern European State Higher School – PWSW in Przemysl.  During last summer’s faculty-led trip, the group had the opportunity to tour the institution. 

PWSW is located in a town with a history that dates back to the early Middle Ages.  Not too far from Poland’s former capital city, Cracow, the small town’s monuments, landscapes and history continue to amaze tourists.  Although, the classes are taught in Polish, PWSW offers courses in History, Political Science, Polish Philosophy, Sociology, Applied Linguistics, International Relations, Environmental Engineering, Mechantronics, and Interior Design.  UALR Exchange Students are also eligible to take Polish and Ukrainian courses. 

Joe will spend two semesters studying Polish at PWSW, but will continue to take two online courses at UALR.  Joe hopes that his Polish studies will help shape future career opportunities, and give him a deeper understanding of Polish culture that he can bring back and share with the community.

To learn more about UALR Exchange Partners and Study Abroad Opportunities, please visit the UALR Programs Abroad website at

Student Spotlight | March 2012: Sarah Dunlap in Jordan

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

UALR Programs Abroad is excited to announce its first Programs Abroad Student Spotlight, Sarah Dunlap.  Sarah is a Senior History Major and Middle Eastern Studies Minor.  While she is looking forward to her upcoming graduation, before she walks across the stage to receive her diploma, she will study abroad one more time!

I come from a family of six children, and interestingly enough one of my younger sisters got me interested in learning Arabic.  Little did I know that I would soon be traveling alone, across the world to Jordan to take intensive Arabic language courses.  Last summer I had an experience that was absolutely life-changing!  It was my first time to travel alone, so I was excited yet very nervous.  At first it was easy for me to notice the difference in cultures, but as time passed I began to realize that the little things in daily life were not so different from the U.S. and frankly did not matter.  It was not long into the trip when I realized that family is very important to the Jordanians, which was something very familiar to me.

University of Jordan | Arabic classes | Summer 2011
Wadi Rumm Beddoin Camp | Summer 2011

 The eight-week intensive Arabic classes at the University of Jordan began, and this is where I really started to interact and engage the Arabic language.  Not only was I learning a language, but I was learning the culture of a unique country among many other students from around the world.  As I put my skills to the test outside of the classroom, my biggest obstacle was the language barrier.  I quickly learned that in order for to learn the most Arabic while I was abroad, I had to be willing to take the steps to go out and practice.  When I did, I found that my  Arabic improved quickly!

University of Jordan | Arabic classes | Summer 2011
University of Jordan | Arabic classes | Summer 2011

 By the end of the study abroad trip, I was really sad to go home.  I had not yet reached a point of “home-sickness” and was not looking forward to leaving my new friends behind.  It was much harder coming back to the U.S. and coming back to the American culture, than going to Jordan and adopting their culture.

Although I had previously had an interest in the Middle East, this trip abroad confirmed my plans for a long-term career goal focused on the Middle East.  As graduation approaches I am in the process of applying for several Middle Eastern Studies Graduate school programs.

I am currently looking forward to returning to Jordan this summer for more intensive Arabic courses.  This time I am not nervous but happy, and glad that my husband will be joining for a visit during my studies.

As a two-time recipient of the UALR Middle Eastern Studies Grant, I strongly encourage Middle Eastern Studies students to apply and take advantage of the opportunity to study a new culture.  If you are interested in learning more about my trip abroad, or the UALR Middle Eastern Studies please e-mail me at

Jordan | Summer 2011
Jordan | Summer 2011

Blog Contest Entry 2 - Taiwan

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Welcome to Paradise!
The Trip that Changed My Life.

by Jessica Fawley

I’m a graduate now.  Officially, I graduated from UALR in the spring, but our university has that wonderful policy where you can do six more hours after graduation.  I applied to do those six hours in Taiwan, a graduation gift to me paid for by the Taiwanese government.
Every morning, I wake up to electric purple and red sunrises which flash the mountains blue and gold all around us, and stubby trees with thick, rounded leaves twice as large as my head.  Welcome to the tropical island of Taiwan.
Photo 1Here, the people are so friendly that not knowing Chinese is no big deal at all.  Sure, you’ll occasionally think you’re ordering chicken and get handed a green milkshake, but mm, it’s delicious.  And they’ll mime with you and point at things until you’ve found the best food you could’ve imagined.  The choices are endless!  Beef noodle, oyster omelet, squid on a stick, crispy duck, egg “hamburgers,” “thick toast” (half-French toast, half toast with jelly, 100% delicious), hot pot swimming in delicious veggies and more kinds of meat than I’ve ever seen in one place, friend rice of a thousand varieties, bubble tea, boba milk tea, tapioca pearls, and apparently Asia invented the hashbrown square (and adds tasty spices)….Or you could just go for all the exotics: the thousand-year egg which was described to me first as a “rotten duck egg,” but is actually fermented.  It tastes great, if you can get over how it looks black, green, slimy, and really, really rotten!  And then there’s stinky tofu—take the name seriously—and a dozen things made with pig’s blood, snake’s blood, and God only knows what else.  Interested in chicken’s foot, pig’s ankle, or chicken butt?  One of my classmates is crazy about the last one—“So tender!” he laughs.  And try the hot dogs for breakfast wrapped in pastry bread.  So great.  But mind the ketchup; I think they’ve added a pound of sugar to every teaspoon.  The most important words you’ll learn are, “Half sugar please.”  And, yes, drinks and add-ons are often so sweet, they overwhelm the Americans.  I wasn’t sure that was possible.
And, of course, if you’re in this awesome TUSA Program, you’ll be learning Chinese.  Beyond being one of the most marketable languages, Chinese is really fun.  And when you’re surrounded by such friendly people, you never have to feel bad about stumbling your way through a sentence, mispronouncing every last tone.  We laugh about saying “I want sleep” when we’re trying to order a dumpling.  The tones are rather funny.  First tone is the one-note song.  Second tone climbs the mountain.  Third tone dips into the caldera of the volcano and eeks back out.  Fourth tone runs down the mountain.  And neutral tone whispers its little song of relief.
Photo 2Photo 3Photo 18For many people, learning Chinese is why they’ve come to Taiwan.  For me, it’s the culture.  I am on the direct opposite side of the earth from home, and the culture, the world, here reflects that.  Every morning when I walk to class, I pass a bald man in his 30’s wearing brown monk’s robes who repeatedly raises his arms up, turns his hands, and lowers them slowly.  There are usually a few people around him.  One woman rubs her back on a tree a lot, another tries to do what the monk is doing but never turns her hands up, only out.  I watch them every morning, and now we greet each other with smiles.  When I go running, an old woman doing some kind of kung fu tai chi, dipping so low you’d think she was Shakira, smiles so brightly to me her eyes almost disappear.  And then there are the groups, everywhere, doing strange flailing exercises, break-dancing, tai chi, and kung fu.  It’s incredible to see what these people can do, and at any age.
Everywhere you go, there’s someone to smile and excitedly say, “Hello!  How are you?”, which might be the only English they know.  Yes, seriously, people yell “Hello” when they’re passing on their bikes and scooters, just because they see you’re American (or might be).  And if they ask, watch them leap with joy when you say you are American!  我是美國人。 If you’re white, don’t take offense if kids scream when they see you (you’re a “white ghost,” after all, with a pointy nose!), and be sure to wave at them as they sneak around you, trying to get a better look.  You’re probably the first white person they’ve ever seen!
But let’s go back a step, to those scooters.  Everywhere, swarming in-and-out all the time, ten times as plentiful as cars, and they’re so much fun.  Our roommates, study buddies, and even teachers take us around on scooters all the time, zooming with the wind in our faces, all around Pingtung (our city).  It’s a tour every time.  Schools that look like military installations (because all the major government buildings are done in the same style here, including our university) or fun houses (private elementary schools), endless signs with Asians so pale they blend with white backgrounds (did you know Asians try to be whiter than we are?  That’s the style.  Skin whiteners are in most of the skin products, watch out!), and bright primary colors on every store sign. They love their reds and yellows.  Red here means luck.  And the colors are just as bright in the Buddhist and Confucius temples.  Skip off your scooter, pass through the dragon doors, light some incense, and pour over the endless stone etchings of gods and dragon-dog-lions.  They’re so cool-looking.  And don’t forget to toss the half-moons to see what the gods think of your future.Photo 9Photo 8
Tired of the city?  Let’s get out.  Kenting Beach, swimming in the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Taiwan Strait on the other.  Water so crisp and blue, you’ll know it’s a tropical island.  In an hour, off I’ll head back to the beach.  How about Monkey Mountain?  Why do you suppose they named it that?  Hike up, up, surrounded by thick, jungle vegetation.  Keep your eyes open, because guess who is sitting in the tree above your head?  Monkeys!  Thousands and thousands of monkeys!  Just don’t bring any food, and you’ll all get along great.  If you’re calm, they’ll even let you close enough to pet them, but watch the teeth.  From there, let’s spirit off to Taroko Gorge, where the mountains split wide open and the rapids play on boulders so huge you’ll feel like a tiny, Lego person, I guarantee.  The rocks are swirls of color—metamorphic (if you’ve taken your geology).  Oh, yes, and don’t worry when you see the giant spiders in their webs all around you.  They’re not dangerous.  But they do jump.  Five feet at least.  Hike the incredible trails around the gorge, and explore the shrines in the mountains.  There are no words for this place, and no pictures that do it justice.  You have to see it with your own eyes.
Now, go back to the cities.  Explore the night markets with their cheap, beautiful clothes, cool t-shirts, and endless arrays of awesome food.  Get a traditional Chinese or Thai massage—it only hurts for a second, then you feel great.  Try the water park-spa or the hot springs spas, where little fish will nibble on your feet.  It tickles like crazy!  Or head over to one of the many waterfalls.  Yes, you’re still in the cities.
Now take a little trip to the Indigenous People’s Park and shoot a boar with a traditional bow and arrow (like I did!  Okay, it was a picture, but I hit it!) or just pay one of the fourteen tribes a visit.  They love visitors!  Especially the Amis (Ah-mei), who dance and sing their way through every activity, every day, like a perpetual Disney movie.  And they’ll sweep you into their dances.  Their the largest of the tribes, and they live their traditional life so proudly and with such incredible joy, it’s intoxicating.  You’ll want to join the tribe.  And the Amis are especially awesome because they’re matriarchal.  The women are so powerful.
From there, hop over to the opera where warriors spin in kung fu dancing or to a traditional drumming concert, where they spin the drum sticks in fung fu drumming, pounding the drums with such energy and force, the sound radiates through your whole body and spirit.  Fung fu, here, or wushu, is a way of life, the energy of life, that so many people harness doing myriad things.  I like to joke that we Americans want the packaged version: “Cool!  Can we learn that this weekend?”
Before I came to Taiwan, I read in guide books that this is the friendliest country on earth.  Now, I’ve only been to six or nine countries, depending on how you measure it, but there’s no denying that these people are friendly and helpful.  Don’t be surprised when your teacher invites you all over for a traditional dinner.  And if you get lost in Hualien while looking for the school where you’re doing an interview to teach English, like I did, just stop into one of the fancy hotels.  Someone will speak English, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re staying there.  They’ll bring you water, print you maps, and if you still can’t find the place, they’ll swoop in and just take you there themselves.  In America, I think a ritzy hotel would just kick you, the non-paying non-guest out on the street.  Here, everyone wants to help you.Photo 5
Taiwan has definitely changed my life, both through all of these experiences, and more directly in changing the course of these next few years, if not forever.  I decided to look into jobs teaching English, and I’ve been offered an incredible job in Hualien.  I’ll be paid more than I’ve ever made in the United States, living in a country so cheap I can live like royalty, and be in Hualien, where the bike paths expand through the entire city and along the coast of the Pacific Ocean.  Hualien, too, is the city beside Taroko Gorge; I have hundreds more paths there to explore and rope bridges to leap on.  In this economy, America is a difficult place to find a job worth having or at all, but over here, in Taiwan, there are hundreds of jobs just waiting for any native English-speaker with a Bachelor’s degree.  It helps that I have a background in teaching, but anyone who wants a job can find one.  When you’re here, ask around, and before you know it, you’ll be taking a job in paradise.
Photo 7Photo 6Photo 4There are no words that do this place justice, and no pictures either.  No story will tell you what it’s like to wander off on your own and meet the beetle nut girls or run off to KTV for a night of wild, up-scale karaoke with forty of your new friends.  You need to be here, to taste the squid, to try your hand at Chinese art and calligraphy, and get buzzed at and massaged or acupunctured by the traditional Chinese doctor.  The TUSA Program is an ambassadorial program funded by the Taiwanese government.  Check it out, and change your life.  It’s adventure time!

2011 Travel Photo Contest Entries

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Gerolstein, Germany

Photo 1:  Weekend trip to Gerolstein, Germany. Rode bikes out to the local castle. While studying in Spain, I took a weekend trip to visit some friends and explore the German countryside on bikes. It was amazing to be able to ride and see elaborate cathedrals, WWII ruins, and castles like this just nestled on the side of the road.  Submitted by Cheyenne Wilson


Photo 2: Student protest at the University of Jordan. Submitted by Sarah Dunlap


Photo 3: Historic District in Ecuador. Unlike the United States, the way of living for these people are similar to their ancestors. They walk almost everywhere, more than we do here. Their shops and stores are very small and they don’t spend a lot of time socializing in public. Submitted by Tynesha Ivory


Photo 4: This photo from March 2011 was taken in Montmartre, France. It depicts one of the many street artists selling their trade on a cold, windy afternoon. I enjoyed capturing this image because the subjects, the artist, his young female sitter and her father, do not seem affected by the pace of life that surrounds them. All of their eyes are intently locked on the anticipated portrait. Submitted by Courtney Ford

Blog Contest Entry 1 - Ecuador

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Ecuador: Middle of My World

by Brittany Uhl

One month: perpetual change

I went to Ecuador with other students from UALR in the summer study abroad program. Before I went I was not really sure if I wanted to continue in Spanish. After this study abroad experience, I really want to continue in Spanish. Learning Spanish in a classroom is fine. However before I went to Ecuador it did not seem like a real language to me. The only place I saw it outside of the classroom was in a Mexican restaurant or maybe once in a while I would hear people speaking it. In Ecuador, Spanish was everywhere. The signs, labels and spoken language was in Spanish. After seeing a whole country using it, living and breathing it, it fueled me to learn more.

Photo 1Mindo: Known for all of its outdoor activities and good for the complexion. We went tubing and took a chiva to see waterfalls.

Photo 2

This is my favorite place (pictured to the right) in Ecuador and by far the most relaxing place. Just choose a hammock, lay there, relax, breath in that fresh, clean air, and fall asleep. Sold yet?

Photo 6

This is also where we saw the Mariposario. It was just spectacular. You get to see the different stages of a butterfly’s development, as well as many different types of butterflies, some of which are as big as your hand. This is also a place where we saw some very exotic, prehistoric-looking plants.

Volunteer Work:

Photo 7Neque y mas Neque: Getting the chance to meet these wonderful little people was one of my favorite parts of the whole study abroad experience. It was so much fun talking to them and learning from them. Yes, we were the ones volunteering, but I believe we learned more from them than the reverse.
A different mentality: We all went to the local playground. The kids broke up into different groups. Some were playing soccer. others were playing in the dirt. At one point a little boy walked approached the group playing in the dirt wanting to join in. In response, the group members screamed and dashed away. Defeated, the boy walked away to a corner of the playground. A fellow student and I started thinking about intervening. At this time the whole group of kids, realizing that they had just hurt their friend’s feelings, rushed to make him feel better. Would this have happened in the US? Maybe.
Photo 9Also, a friend told me a story about when she had fallen down and the kids helped her up and brushed her off. Would this have happened in the US, or would laughter have followed instead? To me, these situations showed what extraordinary people they are.


Another unexpected surprise was the food. There were many different types of fruits there that I had never heard of before. They were delicious!
Photo 11Photo 13Photo 10
Sightseeing: I went to the Basilica, Plaza de la independencia, Mitad del mundo, and many other sites. Before traveling to Ecuador I watched a few travel shows about these different places. It was so awesome to see them in person. Pictures cannot capture the majesty that these places held.

Overall, It was a wonderful experience and I hope someday I will be able to return.

Photo 16Photo 14Photo 17Photo 4

Tristan Thibodeaux in Bangkok, Thailand

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

My name is Tristan Thibodeaux and I am a Junior at UALR. I am currently studying in Bangkok, Thailand through a program called World Endeavors. I learned about this opportunity through the study abroad office on campus, and was helped through the application process by Ms. Aimee Jones, the Programs Abroad Coordinator at UALR. Honestly, the application process was a breeze and preparing for my trip was nowhere near as much work as I originally imagined. Ms. Jones has been a valuable resource throughout my journey, from preparing for departure to helping with any issues that arise back on campus.

Thailand 3

Thailand has been an amazing experience thus far. The Thai people are kind and laid back, and Bangkok is truly a world apart from Arkansas. It is strange to think that right now there are more people within a 5 mile radius than in the entire state of Arkansas. The food is amazing, and life in general is good. I will be studying at Mahidol University but since they are on a different schedule than UALR my classes will not begin until April.

Thailand 5

Right now I am in intensive Thai language classes. I study from 9-12 everyday. Thai is a very hard language but I feel my Thai is coming along. Its funny, because when I first arrived hearing the Thais speak to each other in Thai was very cool. When you do not understand what is being said around you it appears that everything they say is very important and meaningful. Now that I can understand some of what I hear I have been disappointed to learn that Thai people’s conversations are often as mundane as ours are back home. While a place and a language may be different people are pretty much the same everywhere.

I arrived in January, and within three days I had job offers from various schools looking for English teachers. I never thought something that I completely take for granted and do without thinking-speaking English-would be such a valuable asset to some. I did not take a job, but I did take an opportunity to teach English at a primary school on the outskirts of town. I am a volunteer as the school could not afford to pay a native English speaker’s salary. I am the only “farang” or Westerner that I have seen in this part of town, and it does bring me a lot of attention. The kids at the school seem very interested in talking to me, even though they are often to shy to do it.


The majority of my activities take place after school. We have an “English Club” where we play games such a telephone and hangman. I promised them I would teach them American football, which they call super bowl. They were really interested in this, so I broke down and bought an American football (probably the only one in Bangkok) and tried to teach them to play. They seem to like it even though it is taking awhile for them to get the rules down. Being involved with the school there is a great experience; one that I will never forget.


I often wonder how I ended up here, half a world away from my home, family, friends, and school. It can be quite lonely to think that I am over a day’s travel from anyone that I knew before January. But at the same time life here is an adventure. Every day I do something new and exciting. I meet new people often and I have made good friends as well. It is strange how I can feel both at home and so far away from home at the same time.

Having the opportunity to come to Thailand is something that I am very grateful for. With the help of Ms. Jones and the Office of International Services, I feel like I have all the support I need back on campus. I have had a few little bureaucratic issues arise back home, but Ms. Jones had them smoothed over in no time. Overall, everyone I have worked with back on campus has been incredibly supportive. If you are thinking about going abroad, DO IT! The cost is nothing compared to the experience you will receive. If you plan early enough you can find ways to fund your trip. The programs we have available to us as UALR students are great, and there is no reason for you not to go abroad.









Researching Lived Experience in Paris, France

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

         By Julien C. Mirivel, PhD


                                           Paris 4 

                                           Group picture: Nyvelyn Shaw, Katy Rowden,

                      Amanda Wells, Julien Mirivel, Alex Long, Tracy Guilbeau,

                         Ashley Byrd, Andrew Pyle, Jill Gray, and Nathan Jeffers.


         The Indian thinker Jiddu Krishanmurti once wrote: “Our thinking is the outcome of our own very limited experience.” One way to strengthen a person’s thinking, and to cultivate in them a new lens through which to appreciate their world, is to create new experiences for them. In May, with the support of the Office of International Services, I did just that for 10 UALR students by bringing them into my home culture; we spent a full week in Paris, France together. The course, offered by the Department of Speech Communication, was titled “Researching Lived Experience.” Prior to departure, we spent five 2-hour sessions preparing for the trip and deepened our understanding of phenomenology. Upon their return, students wrote a report on what they experienced abroad and presented their findings in a public presentation. Teaching this course was a wonderful experience. Let me describe a few highlights.
Most of my teaching has taken place in the classroom; with a marker, a chalkboard, and a smile. Even though I interact frequently with students, I still have very limited contact with them on a daily basis. I assume this is true of most faculty members on this campus. On Friday May 14th, I found myself at the Little Rock Airport facing 10 students, some of whom had never flown before. Most did not speak French at all. No books, no notes; just human relationships to cultivate in a neutral environment. On the plane, I spent one hour and a half discovering Ashley, her dreams and goals, and her birthday; it turns out, we share many similarities. Then, it’s several hours to wait in Chicago. We’re finally on our transatlantic plane. By the time we reach Paris, we’ve already been together as a group for 15 hours. This is the equivalent of 5 weeks of classes on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule. To be honest, interacting with students on a daily, consistent, basis, learning about the details in their lives, and being responsible for them, was the highlight of my study abroad.
         During the trip, we dived into the city. Upon arrival, we immediately discovered the Latin Quarter, where the historic university of Paris, La Sorbonne, lies. One learning moment took place when we arrived at the “Jardin du Luxembourg.” As students gazed upon the site, they asked: “Is there a concert? What are these people waiting for?”


France 2         Paris 6


                  I was surprised that they could not understand the view: people were relaxing, spending time with family members, reading the newspaper, and living in the moment. Yes, very French indeed! We sat down together, looking a little awkward, eager to move on to our next view. This moment thus captures the important pedagogical difference between understanding and realizing. As Millman (2000) put it, “Understanding is the one-dimensional comprehension of the intellect […] Realization is three-dimensional — a simultaneous comprehension of head, heart, and instinct. It comes only from direct experience” (p. 15).
In a week, we experienced Notre Dame, La Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, le Chateaux de Versailles, Le Louvre, as well as the Eiffel Tower and les Champs-Elisées. Most importantly, we learned from each other during our morning class at the local cafes and created stronger ties during our long lunches and dinners. At first, students were often in a hurry to leave the table. On our last night, we ate from 8:00 pm until 12:30 pm. Today, most students miss the meaningful conversations that emerged at the dinner table.  

France 1         France 3

              During the week, students learned more about how deeply culture influences our ways of thinking, talking, and behaving. They also discovered much about themselves. Some experienced homesickness, others viewed their own culture in a new lens. As one student put it at one breakfast meeting: “I’m not shocked about French culture; it’s my culture that shocks me.” They also built memorable friendships, created memories for a lifetime, and often laughed together late into the night.  In short, when learning builds on living real experiences, students can simply grow as persons. 


                                          France 5


Andrew Pyle,
Graduate Student, M.A. Applied Communication Studies
         The opportunity to spend a week in Paris studying culture and the ways that people communicate with one another was life-changing.  Over the course of seven days I learned valuable insights about my classmates, my culture, and myself.  We had the chance to see beautiful architecture and artistic masterpieces; each day seemed better than the last.  I learned the value of slowing down to appreciate life as I experience it, rather than hurrying from one deadline to the next.
The most memorable moments of the experience occurred during our meals together.  We took time to talk with one another, to enjoy delicious food that was often new and unusual, and to appreciate the value of sitting, listening, and understanding.  The city of Paris is beautiful, day and night; French culture is fascinating and different from my own; and I would not trade the experiences that I was fortunate enough to be part of even if you paid me.  Everyone should take time to study in a different culture and have their eyes opened to the spectacular differences that define us.

LaDawn Moore,
Undergraduate Student, Department of Speech Communication
Learning to live is learning to let go.” - Sogyal Rinpoche
When you travel abroad, you pack along with a toothbrush, many assumptions and expectations about the places that you will visit and the people you will meet. I learned on my trip to Paris, France, that most of my assumptions were wrong and I had to let go of the stereotype that the French are collectively a rude bunch. My experience taught me that the French can actually be downright warm and friendly to foreigners.
 I was walking down the dusty street, my feet tired and ankles swollen, from the recent long plane ride, when I first smelled the sweetness of the baskets of strawberries. They were all lined up in a tidy display outside a small grocery. I chose my basket and went into the tiny store with its narrow aisles and looked for somewhere to pay for my delectable discovery. I spotted only one man crouched down, organizing shelves, wearing an apron. He saw me and smiled. I returned the smile and said “bonjour” and he said, “No-No”. I was confused. He then took the time to tell me, with his very broken English, why “bonjour” was wrong and how “bonsoir” was the right greeting. We went back and forth, trying to communicate and laughing as he made me repeat “bonsoir” until I had it right. As I left the store with my juicy, sweet strawberries, I realized I had made a friend. A friend for that moment only, and I learned to let go of the assumptions I had arrived with.
LaDawn Moore
Paris, France 2010


Study Abroad: Salamanca, Spain

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

By: Sana Mohsin
Summer 2009

We were finally off the plane after a dreadful fourteen hour flight. I didn’t know what I was more worried about, getting my bags back in one piece or trying to figure out how to ask the airport staff where the bathroom is in Spanish. But soon enough, my worries dissipated as everyone working in the Madrid airport spoke English to us! This continued through our four day stay in Madrid; apparently we had a giant banner above us that said ‘Caution: Americans’ because every time a cashier or waitress would see our group of fifteen they would speak to us in English not Spanish, and that too, slowly. (more…)

My Mexican Family

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

By: Kirby Atkins
Mexico 2009

My study abroad experience was better than I expected, my usage skills of the language has skyrocketed, and best of all I made some new friends, and it wasn’t painful in anyway.

I went on plenty of trips and adventures and have some awesome stories from my summer in Mexico, but I want to talk about the most important thing I experienced while I was there and I didn’t even have to leave the house. (more…)


Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

By: Ezra Phillips

Thanks to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Department of Middle Eastern Studies I was awarded a grant to travel to the Egypt and live in the culture for several months.

During this time, I traveled the country and made countless friends along the way.

I immediately fell in love with all of the new sights, flavors, smells, and tastes, not to mention the happy and generous people of Egypt.

Throughout the duration of my time abroad I learned first-hand, not only about the cultures of the region, but as well as my own culture here in the United States. (more…)

European Questionnaire!

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

By: Jessica Fawley

“How Was France?”

Intense and awesome!

I adored French bread, Swiss wine, and Croatian pizza. I also loved châteaux, nature devoid of pollution and litter, effective public transportation, the close proximity to fascinating places, the history, the art, the diversity, how the average person’s intelligence in Western Europe appeared to be three times ours (I met a 10-year-old genius who spoke four languages better than most of us speak English!), and how some places (NOT the university in Orléans) and people knew far better than we do how to relax and enjoy life. (more…)

Traveling Abroad

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

When I left the country and traveled overseas, I expected things to be different. I eagerly awaited new experiences and anticipated encounters with foreign peoples and cultures. I expected and even banked on broadening my mind and opening my heart to new ideas and ways of knowing. But I didn’t expect to learn so much about myself and my home. I knew the experience would change me, I just didn’t understand how.

When you step into a new and different place there is an opportunity to look back and examine the world you just left—the one that molded and shaped you into who you are today. Except now upon leaving the country I once thought was home, it too now also seems foreign. I’m forced to adopt the identity of an alien while also accepting responsibility for the crimes committed by my nation and culture. This discord created further distance between myself and my home—a dissonance that may never resolve, not even after ending my journey and returning. (more…)