Week 8: Intercultural Development

After reading through all of the different stages of intercultural development, I would say that as of right now in my life I’m falling between the stage of acceptance.  I feel like I empathize with others well and I’m always trying to learn more about others cultures.  I love asking other people questions about themselves because it gives me a different perspective.  I don’t think that just because someone does something different than me that it makes it bad or necessarily good.  And I don’t like to really judge others on a whole because I wouldn’t want to be judged by them either so I try to always think about it from the perspective well how would I feel if I was in their shoes.  This helps me with not judging them and anything they do.

FINAL POST

This semester, this class taught me so much and has opened so many doors of just understanding studying abroad. I’ve learned the reasons why going abroad could be beneficial, yet hamrful to some, and also why It would be a good fit for me. Starting off in the class, I had the wrong idea of where I wanted to go and why I wanted to go there. I thought that money was going to fully stand in the way and that people just study abroad to just get away from where they’re from and into a new scenery. I learned I would like to study abroad  to learn and see first hand how other cultures interact. It’s fascinating to see how different but yet similar people of different backgrounds can be. I hoped that as I get older, I’d be mature enough to know when I’m ready.In the end, I think I’m actually more ready and mature than I give myself credit for. I also had no clue that studying abroad supposedly should cost the same if not cheaper than your tuition  you are already paying for the semester.  It was actually ironic because my mom and I were talking this weekend about this study abroad course. We also brought up how expensive it would be and how it would be a lot more than what I’m paying right now. It would be interesting to now share the information I’ve gotten. The only knowledge of studying abroad I had at first was from movies and a little from my friend who was a foreign exchange student back in high school. Since movies glamorize everything and my friend and I never really talked into depth about finances and the hard work that goes into studying abroad, you can say I knew little to none. Now, I can say that I definitely understand the concept more. I figured out that I would like a more structured study abroad experience. I get very uncomfortable with too much independence, no schedule, and no familiar faces. I don’t think I’d have fun if it was an experience where my activities were solely up to me. Honestly, I’d probably just stay in  my room where I felt comfortable. I also would prefer more of a short-termed study abroad experience because I feel I’d get too home sick to even appreciate my time there. Although, since the short-termed is more expensive, I should consider getting out of my shell and going with long term. If I were to study abroad, I’d like to do an internship or as well for the purpose of research opportunities and credibility. The program that I love the most is a summer GEO Direct-Enroll program at the American College of Greece. The reason I love this program the most is because it has multiple programs and classes I can take that’s specifically for my major. I’m also a big fan of this whole short-term studying abroad. I also would love to go to Greece so it’s a win-win. I want to go to Greece because it offers a lot of classes for my major and, who wouldn’t want to go to Greece? I think it’s probably one of the coolest and unusual places to go nowadays. The most I know about Greece is from the basics you learn in history class, the Parthenon, the Acropolis of Athens, the whole nine yards. I’ve also seen and learned about Greece from movies, such as 300, and many more. Even though I’m pretty sure movies aren’t the best way to portray Greece in it’s modern time, the history of Greece is still cool. I also love watching and reading about Greek mythology, although, I think Greek mythology could be considered a stereotype. I feel like a lot of people when they think of Greece, automatically think of them as toga wearing, 12 God having people, even though it was so long ago. Actually, Greece has a large proportion of Christian Orthodox. Although I don’t know much about Greece, I really want to explore and learn more about the culture and language. I think that’s another reason I’m pulling towards Greece so much. I have never traveled there or even met anyone that has been there. Finally, I learned study abroad isn’t for everyone.  A lot of times, people engage in things to make themselves seem more precious than they really are. It’s like, they don’t help people for the people benefit, they do it for their benefit. And posting on social media for others to see them participating in these international programs, gives them comfort to make it feel like they’re doing something right. It is also true that individuals, especially those that have more money than the average family, makes sure their kids participate in some type of fancy service-learning program, but, while they boast on Instagram, they forget to not only help and care about what they’re doing internationally, they forget to help out with things that are going on in their own backyards. Although many aren’t passionate about their services, depending on your internal goals and motivations, you can definitely still engage in international volunteering experiences and do more good than harm. It honestly all just depends on you. There are people in this world that genuinely want to give back, with no cell phones or personal satisfaction. Some people really want to just help. Study abroad was a fun engaging class. Thank you for allowing me to be apart of it!

Last Assignment

At the beginning of the semester, I was set on studying abroad in Malta and pursuing environmental science. Now, I’ve switched my major to history and switched my ideal location to go aboard. I want to go to Ireland. Cork and Dublin are two cities I would like to explore there. I also have fallen in love with the scenery that comes along with Ireland. I think going abroad during my Junior year at VCU would be most ideal. Obviously most of the classes I would be related to history. I’m currently reading a book about the war between the British and the Irish, leading to the formation of the Irish Republican Army. Being able to go where an event took place would really enhance my perspective and knowledge. My plan on incorporating going abroad with my degree plan would be easy: take and pass classes. I would be taking classes that will fulfil my major requirements therefore keeping me on track. I will most likely be using ISEP to go abroad. I like how it’s organized and it seems pretty easy navigate. Currently ISEP has four universities in Ireland that are connected with the program. Although when I add the “history (European history)” as my field of history, no results come up. That doesn’t bother me though, I’m sure that those 4 colleges have classes on history. For funding, I hope that my financial aid would cover a good portion of it, while scholarships would fulfill the remaining amount. Our last class was very helpful. I know I will definitely be taking advantage of the office and their resources. I know this is probably an absurd and short-lived goal but I can imagine myself moving to Ireland (probably in the south) and working as a curator in some museum. My favorite class was when we had the 3 foreign exchange students come in and talk about their life at VCU. It was really interesting to hear, from their point of view, what America, and more specifically VCU, was like. This course has prepared me enough that I now feel confident enough to begin the process of going abroad. Thanks to this class, I don’t feel overwhelmed when thinking about going abroad. I have a checklist of things I need to do in order to reach the goal. The knowledge I learned will never be forgotten and will (hopefully) always be remembered.

Final Post

In taking Maximizing Your Study Abroad, I have learned a lot about the ins and outs of studying abroad. This class has helped me understand what I am looking for in a study abroad program and what programs and additional resources are available to me as a student at VCU. Through the course of the class, my plans for studying abroad have changed and evolved a lot. Originally, I wanted to studying in an English-speaking country, but when I learned more about the advantages of learning a language abroad, I decided to look into studying in Russia. Through additional research, I decided that Russia was not for me and that studying in Spain would be more beneficial to me academically and personally.

One of the most beneficial assignments that we did in Maximizing Your Study Abroad was going to talk to our advisors about an academic plan for studying abroad. I met with my advisor, Amanda Burby and talked with her about when the best time for me to study abroad is. I am a pre-nursing major and hope to get into the VCU nursing program next fall. Ms. Burby told me that as a nursing student it is very difficult to study abroad, because VCU only accepts nursing credits from their own nursing school. She told me that if I wanted to study abroad during an academic semester, I should plan to study abroad next fall. I did not like this idea, because I want to be very well adjusted in my academics at VCU before I switch to a whole new university and country. In the nursing plan of study, the courses I would be taking next fall are not nursing specific, so it is more likely that the credits would transfer from a foreign university. Ms. Burby also suggested to me that I could study abroad over the summer if I am not ready to go abroad next fall.

My discussion with Ms. Burby really changed my study abroad plans. Prior to meeting with Ms. Burby, I really wanted to study in Russia for a semester and learn the language, but after talking with Ms. Burby, I realized that that might not be the most realistic plan. Now, I am thinking about a summer program that Ms. Burby suggested to me that is specific for nursing students. The program is hosted in Spain and is very popular among VCU nursing students. The program is held in Cordoba, which borders a river in the south of Spain. I have looked at a few photos from Cordoba and it is breathtakingly beautiful.

The name of the program is VCU Summer: Nursing in Spain. The program is open only to VCU nursing students, so if I decide to apply to it, I will be traveling with my colleges. This may be very beneficial to me, because if I am being honest with myself, traveling to a foreign country where I do not know anyone at all could be too overwhelming for me. The program is open to juniors and seniors in the nursing program, so I will have plenty of time to become adjusted in my academics before going abroad. I think I will apply to the program for the summer before my junior year. The Nursing in Spain class is very inexpensive in comparison to other study abroad options. The program class charges VCU tuition, so I will be able to use my financial aid and scholarship money to offset the cost. The only other expenses associated with the program are a $250 fee and airfare. Room and board are included in the tuition, so the cost of living for the program will be even less expensive than living in Richmond. The class offered through the program is called International Comparison of Nursing Education and Clinical Care. The goal of the class is to compare and contrast the nature of nursing in Spain and the United States. It is a one credit class that includes 30 clinical hours. I think this class will be very interesting and also useful when applying to jobs once I graduate with my Bachelors of Science in Nursing.

An international perspective is useful in any job, but especially in nursing. In knowledge that I gained in class as well as in my interview with Laura Benn, I have learned that employers really like employees who have studied abroad. It adds diversity of knowledge to the workplace as well as something interesting to talk about in a job interview. Ms. Benn told me that as a nurse it is important to be culturally sensitive and aware. I grew up in a culturally diverse area, but studying abroad will help increase my cultural awareness. In addition to looking good to employers, I hope to learn some medical Spanish in my time in Spain. There are a lot of people in America who speak Spanish as their first language and speak only minimal English. For many of these people, their English language skills do not extend to medical terminology. Therefor, it is important for medical professionals to speak medical Spanish in order to communicate with their patients.

In addition to coursework, I hope to travel in Spain. The University of Cordoba is only two hours from Madrid, 45 minutes from Seville, and one hour from Malaga. Cordoba and all of these cities are historic European cities with beautiful architecture. I do not think that I will have the time or money to extensively travel in Europe during my time studying abroad, so it is great that Cordoba is so close to other cities in which I can explore.

Maximizing Your Study Abroad has aided in personalizing my study abroad plan. Planning to study abroad was initially very overwhelming to me. I did not know where to start or how to go about looking for programs. After taking this class, I feel that I have a solid study abroad plan and that I will easily be able to execute this plan. I am very excited about the opportunities ahead of me.

Week 5: Mock Scholarship Application Essay

Part 1:

All of my life I have dreamed of becoming a nurse. I am currently thinking of specializing in the emergency room or operating room. People come to the emergency and operating rooms from all walks of life and from a variety of cultures. What makes a nurse’s job challenging is communicating with people from different cultures and communicating with people who speak different languages. I want to learn a Critical Language so that I can communicate with patients who have limited English language skills.

I want to study abroad in Russia through a Partnership Exchange that my university, Virginia Commonwealth University, has with St. Petersburg State University in St. Petersburg, Russia. This program will improve my Russian language skills, because I will be taking all of my classes in Russian and be living with Russian students for a full semester. This will be a full immersion experience for me. While this is a huge advantage to the program I have chosen, it also poses a challenge to me. I currently have few Russian language skills, and only a rudimentary understanding of Russian culture. I am prepared to overcome this challenge, however. My university provides Rosetta Stone language learning programs for all university students. I plan to learn more Russian through the Rosetta Stone and do independent research on Russian culture and history. I feel that these steps will help me learn enough Russian to get by.

I believe that this program will enhance my academic experience and provide me with skills necessary to excel in my future career. After completing an academic semester in Russia, I will be able to speak a high level of the  Russian language and will have a strong understanding of Russian culture.

 

Part 2:

To promote the Gilman Scholarship, I plan to create a newsletter that my university’s nursing school will send to all of the nursing students. In the newsletter I will discuss my experience abroad and how I think that studying abroad will influence my career as a nurse. Nursing students are among the minority of students who choose to study abroad, and my newsletter will encourage nursing students to study abroad to enhance their communication skills and personal growth

Cultural Identities Case Study

The cultural factor at play here is respect of women and perception of women. Morocco is an Islamic state, and women are expected to dress conservatively and women in Morocco often wear hijabs. American women are much less conservative in the way they dress and may be perceived as promiscuous by Moroccan men who are not used to the American style of dress. There is a lot more discrimination against women in Morocco and women are not as respected as they are in America, so it is not surprising that the student is being sexually harassed.

The student should talk to her host family about the issue but if she continues to feel unsafe, she should contact the Moroccan police or the US Embassy. Her host family can give the student advice on how to avoid people and situations that can be threatening.

To cope with the current situation, the student should walk home with friends and travel in groups. She should also learn which areas and streets to avoid. She may want to alter her style of dress to be more conservative in accordance to the cultural norm in Morocco.

CULTURAL IDENTITIES CASE STUDY

The cultural factors that are in play a role in this situation is how men view and objectify women. This type of standard is the same across many cultures, it’s just that the intensity of it changes. I would tell my host family about this situation and would try to travel in groups rather than alone.

Week 14: Cultural Identities Case Study

I chose scenario 1.

I think that because I’m a woman, I stand out, and therefore I will be targeted for disgusting comments and catcalling. To hopefully solve some of these issues, I would first talk to my host family. It’s more than likely that theres a female in the household that could give me guidance or help with the harrassment and stalking I’m recieving from the men in Rabat. I feel confident that I could get some sort of a male escort or at least another woman to walk me to and from some of my destinations. I could also try talking to someone from the university I’m attending, whether it be a teacher or someone in administation. Certainly I wouldn’t be the first case of “sexual harassment” they’ve had…

Thanksgiving

I was sitting at the small table with my Abuelo (grandfather) and little brother and his best friend.  We were talking about school and I told them how I would like to go study abroad in Spain.  My Abuelo looked up at me and said “really?”.  I was like yeah I loved Costa Rica, why not go somewhere new and explore my opportunities.  He was so excited.  He ended up telling me he went to study abroad in Spain in college too.  He said it changed his life forever.  I asked him why he never mentioned it since it had such an impact on him.  He didn’t know that I was interested in traveling so he never brought it up.  But he was telling me how it was his first time on a plane and he didn’t know what to expect.  He ended up almost missing his flight and caught it by running onto the strip.  We were all laughing.  He says he was running in front of it waving his hands and yelling that his luggage and everything was on that plane and they weren’t leaving without him.  He refused to stop even when everyone was yelling for him to move out of the way for safety reasons.  They finally let him on once he explained that all of his belongings were on that plane and he wasn’t leaving till he got his things.  When he got on the plane, he said his friends were impressed saying he was the stuff for making the plane stop for him.  I found out my little brother during this conversation would like to study in Italy.  He doesn’t know where yet but he knows Italy.  He said if he doesn’t go to study he’d still love to go and visit and see what it’s like there.

Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving I attempted to tell my parents about studying abroad. I want to go the Athens, Greece so I took it among myself to go to the studioabroad website and go through the whole plan with them. Long story short, they were not having it. My parents are very firm on what they want and do not want, but it’s okay, I’m very persuasive. We’ll see again during Christmas.