Monday, August 25, 2014

France: Nancy

Andrew Reetz '14
What is your major? 

SOAN/ Foreign Languages (French/Japanese)

Why did you decide to study abroad? 

To feed the mind and nurture my soul.

Why did you choose Nancy?

Between the choices provided, Nancy is a city on the TGV path between Paris and Strasbourg, making it a major destination for travelers and students in the region of Lorraine. There are very few English speakers, which forced me to integrate into the French culture and acquire language proficiency (and fluency!) by conversing with my new French comrades.

What was your living situation like?
I lived with a welcoming Catholic family in the center of town where I enjoyed the camaraderie of four host brothers and a home-like sentiment for the full-year.

View from my window
Highlights/challenges of the program:

Adapting to the religiosity of my host family was particularly challenging at first considering their conservative politics, yet it was a growing experience not only for me but for them as well as we later admitted to one another.

Nancy in the fall
Advice you wish you had been given before going on your program:

Relax! In France, nothing is planned until the last minute when it comes to the Fac. Just wait for things to happen and be on time when they finally do!
Additional Comments  
Please visit Andrew's personal blog for more stories and photos from his year in Nancy!

If you have any questions for Andrew or about the Nancy program in general, please follow this link to the Ask An Alum moodle page. 

Monday, February 3, 2014


 Melanie Toth '15

All of us learning traditional Greek dance while on Lesvos

What is your major?


Why did you decide to study abroad? 
I decided to study abroad because I have always had an urge to travel, am fascinated by culture, and therefore thought that an abroad experience, no matter the location, would enhance my degree at LC. 

Why did you choose Greece?
I chose Greece not only because of its immense beauty but also because of the program's archeology focus. I have always wanted to learn more about archeology and am even considering it as a potential career path

Listening to a lecture from our Archeology 
teacher while at Ephesus, in Turkey.

What was your living situation like?
Our program was divided into a few different sections. We were in Athens in September, in Lesvos in October, and then came back to Athens for November. In Athens, we all lived in our own apartments. All of us LC students were grouped together in apartments (about four per apartment) in various places in neighborhood adjoining our school in Athens. This was a really exciting source of independence for a lot of us, but also gave us the option of having each other near by. While in Lesvos, we all stayed in a family run hotel, two to a room. This felt more like living in the dorms because we were together all the time. Having these two experiences was great, because in Athens it allowed us to make our own identity in the city, but we all got very close while living at the hotel. 

One of the stunning 
Meteora monasteries

Highlights of the program:
Highlights of the program were with out a doubt the bond that we all formed through our group travels. We got to see all over Greece, not just the places we lived, as well as taking a trip to Turkey together. I can safely say for all of us that our travel weekends to Delphi, Olympia, Metsovo, Meteora, Nafplio, and our week in Turkey were some of the best times on our trip. 

Challenges of the program:
A challenge of the program was our academic schedule. We had class six hours a day four days a week and, like I said, spent a lot of time on the weekends at ancient sites.  As LC students, it was not the academic rigor that was especially difficult, but adjusting to a new culture and new schedule for class and homework time did prove to be a challenge

Advice you wish you had been given before your program?

View of Athens from the Acropolis
Before my program, of course people were telling me to enjoy every second, and absorb as much as I possibly could, so I won't tell you to do that because of course you will. I do wish, however, that someone had told me in September to not be as stressed as I was about school and to get out into the city more. When coming back to Athens in November, I sort of figured this out for myself by setting myself a goal of going to at least two new places in Athens each week. This is something that I wish I had done in September as well because I was able to explore my city, while still staying focused in my classes. Finding a balance between academics and adventuring in a new country is something that I wish I was better equipped to handle. Savor every second because it will fly by!
A location for many a class, the Parthenon

Additional comments?
I've just gotten back to LC for the spring semester, and everyone says the same thing: "How was it?!" How can I sum up what was the most incredible and full experience of my life so far? The friendships and experiences I had while in Greece have absolutely changed who I want to be and I have learned more about both the contemporary and ancient world than I thought I could. What is incredible about the Greece program is the degree to which you learn. Being able to learn and practice archeology in Greece, is valuable no matter what your major or interest. Getting in the dirt and learning about this world in such a physical way is absolutely remarkable. To see more of what our experience was like in Greece I also wrote a blog while there. It is titled, after my desire to be Indiana Jones,

If you have any questions for Melanie or about the Greece program in general, please follow this link to the Ask An Alum moodle page. 


Monday, October 14, 2013

Chile: Valparaíso

   View of Valparaíso from the Dunes in ConCon
 Alex Grinberg '14

What is your major?
I am a physics major!

Why did you decide to study abroad? 
Studying abroad was always a part of my plan no matter where I went to college. I think it is the best way to learn about a new city, country, culture, and it forces you completely out of your comfort zone. Being out of the US for months at a time gives you a whole new perspective on life and makes you realize what a small portion of the globe you inhabit. Also, I felt I was at a point with my Spanish where I could not improve until I really immersed myself in the language. 
Torres Del Paine

Why did you choose Chile: Valparaíso?
I chose to go to Chile because I had already done a summer program in Spain in high school and wanted to go to South America since I had never been before. I knew I wanted a program that was going to be language intensive and not only LC students. 

What was your living situation like?
I lived with a host family in the next city over from Valparaíso, in Viña del Mar. The family consisted of a single mom, a 21-year-old boy, 20-year-old girl, and 6(!) host animals. I had my own room and a half bathroom. 

Sunset in Viña

Highlights of the program:
I think what really sets this program apart from the other LC programs is that it is not a strictly LC program. It was great being able to meet students from other universities across the US. CIEE, who runs the program in Valpo, was an incredible resource, with a very hands-off approach, which was extremely important to me since I wanted a more independent abroad experience.  Another part of the program I was thankful for was that we didn't have to take classes with other Americans (except for 1). I was able to take classes in the Art, physics, and Geology departments with the Chilean students. 

 Overlooking Valparaíso

The university we were attending was on strike for the majority of our time there so we were able to learn about the student protests that are not so uncommon in Chile. Because of this time off, I had the opportunity to travel the majority of Chile as well as parts of Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru. It was awesome to really get to know all of Chile and see glimpses of its surroundings countries. Chile has so much to offer in terms of the variety of climates, I saw glaciers and penguins in the very South as well as the driest desert on the planet that lies in   the very North. 

Challenges of the program:

 Backpacking an unmarked Volcano
Studying abroad is one of the most emotionally exhausting things you can do. There are moments of extreme joy and there are times when the 6,000 mile distance from anyone you really 'know' gets to you. There are times when the bus driver acts like he doesn't understand you even though you are speaking as clearly as possible and you just need to get to class. No matter how fluent in Spanish you consider yourself, everyday interactions will be 10x more exhausting and that can really get to people. Also while I enjoyed the host family experience, it was hard to adapt to a huge family and how they operated. 

In the end, the challenges were really what made the experience. When I talk about my time in Chile it seems that those are the best stories even though they may not have seemed so funny at the time. You have to remember that difficult experiences, like getting dropped off by a bus in the middle of nowhere Patagonia with only a backpack and a friend, are just a part of the experience. 

 Taking pictures with Guanacos in the South

Jumping at the Altiplano Lagunas in the North
Advice you wish you had been given before your program?

Chile is not cheap. In fact, a lot of things are going to be more expensive than in the US. That being said, girls should bring as many feminine products as they are going to need for the semester because they are extremely expensive. I would also say to travel as much as you can afford (both time-wise and financially) but also get to know Valparaíso and its beautiful Cerros. 

Additional comments?
It is really important to put yourself out there as much as possible. I think if being abroad taught me anything it was humility. You endure so many incredibly awkward experiences while you are abroad and the most important thing is learning to laugh at yourself.

If you have any questions for Alex or about the Chile programs in general, please follow this link to the Ask An Alum moodle page.