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Cuzco Advice from an Alumnus

Kids_CuscoWhat to expect for those who have no idea what to expect: Cuzco, Peru
I spent my first semester abroad feeling spoiled at beautiful Regents College in London, so I’d be lying if I said I had no apprehensions about a summer in Cuzco, Peru.   I now know I had nothing to worry about and easily fell in love with Peru, but here are a few ideas on what to expect:
Expect altitude sickness to really not be that bad, typically. – Before I left for Cuzco, I was convinced that, despite the many reputable websites that say altitude sickness is usually nothing major, my first few days would be spent gasping for air. Not the case. At all.
My first day off the plane I felt fine; went for a long walk, explored a little.  The 2nd day I woke up with a nasty headache and an achy body. One hour and a few cups of mate de coca later, and I was good to go.  No doubt you too will come to understand why the Andean people hold this leaf so sacred.
Expect for the weather to be opposite from back home. Cuzco has two seasons, Rainy and Dry. Rainy season lasts from November- March and is typically quite warm.  Dry season consists of hot days, very cold nights, and lasts from April-October.
Expect to form a relationship with your host family. –One of my professors pointed out, in comparison to North American families, Peruvians tend to spend much more time together at home.  This was most evident when it came to meal time.  Meals in our house would go on for hours, my host mother, father, brother and I always finding new things to talk about.
The majority of the ASA host families consist of older women who truly enjoy the company of a new student.  My host family showed me new locations and things I never would have found otherwise.  Occasional coffee Skype chats with my host mom have become one of my favorite things about returning home.
Expect to be offered a different cuisine. Lomo saltado, anticucho, ceviche, guinea pig!? All are typical Peruvian dishes.  Give it a try! Just be careful, our stomachs can’t always handle all these new tastes at once.
Expect to do some shopping. Peru is a place where the exchange rate definitely works in our favor.  With such cheap prices, it’s easy to find that perfect gift for everyone back home. Just remember to heed the advice of Laura Beth or you’ll need an extra suitcase to carry all those alpaca scarves and sweaters back home.
Expect to experience a new dialect. As Vickie noted from her experience in Buenos Aires, Not all Spanish is created equal!  Peruvians consider their Spanish to be very pure and simple.  However several communities still speak Quechua, an indigenous dialect sacred to the Andes.  With more than 25 varieties, it is a fascinating language.
Expect to go on some AMAZING excursions:

cuzco Enough said.

A Weekend in Paris

955281_66637682As part of the ASA London program, you get to go on a few day trips, and then two weekend trips of your choice built in to the cost of the program. One of the weekend trips I went on was a visit to Paris. This was awesome, because most of my friends not from ASA had to pay for the trip, so it made me realize how really awesome it was to get to go cost free!

We went to Paris in late April. After getting to King’s Cross station, we took the Chunnell to Paris. It was a surprisingly quick trip! As soon as we checked in to our hostel, my friends and I set off. After navigating the Tube, the Metro was pretty easy to figure out. We took the Metro straight to the Lourve , where we were admitted for free when we flashed our Regent’s student ID’s. After checking out the “Mona Lisa”, obviously, and some other timelessly famous art, we walked through the Jardin de Tuileries, down the Champs Elysees, and to the Arc de Triomphe.  That alone is a lot of sights to take in during one afternoon! If studying abroad has taught me anything, it is how to fit a lot in to a short amount of time. We stopped and ate French macaroons and éclairs, while also buying some baguettes and wine.

The moment that you see the Eiffel Tower in person is indescribable. I saw the Coliseum in Rome, the canals of Venice, but the Eiffel Tower was by far the most breath-taking sight. We worked our way towards the Eiffel Tower. We paid to walk part of the way up, then take the elevator to the top. We got right to the top of the Tower as it got dark. For the first few minutes of every hour, the entire Eiffel Tower sparkles and lights up. We watched it from the actual tower itself, then spent the rest of the night on the Trocadero watching it in amazement. This was my most favorite part of Paris, just watching the Eiffel Tower light up while eating a baguette and drinking wine with my friends. It sounds cliché, but there is a reason people always do these things while in Paris.

The next day, we took the train from Paris to Versailles. It was really nice to get out of the “city” and to the country. The small town around Versailles is adorable and exactly what I pictured a French town to be. In Paris, most people speak English, but here they did not. There was an amazing farmer’s market that we went to and stocked up on baguette sandwiches, raspberries, cheese, and desserts. We took our food, and went to the Palace. It is an amazing place that is grander than any other building I’ve ever seen! After the tour, my friends and I ate on the grass outside of Versailles. It sounds so sophisticated! This was another moment that I loved and will remember forever.

During the rest of our trip to Paris, we went to the Latin Quarter, Notre Dame, Pere Lachaise, Montmartre and the Luxembourg Palace. I only wish that we had more time in Paris, but the time spent there was definitely the best weekend I had while studying abroad. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to go to Paris with my ASA group. It made my whole study abroad experience even better.

My Experience in Dublin

Trevor Gilchrist is a student from the University of South Carolina who studied on ASA’s Spring 2011 Dublin program at Griffith College. During his time abroad, Trevor wanted to explore not only his new surroundings and how they would affect him, but also to understand what his influence on those surroundings would be. Trevor documented his experience with a video camera, interviewing friends and making personal observations about different topics that interested him, such as race relations, alcohol, and the impact world travel can have on an individual’s perspective. Watch Part One and Two of this documentary as Trevor discusses his first impressions of Dublin, his travels around Europe and his personal growth as the semester unfolded.

The Royal Wedding

Marching_guardsApril 29, 2011 was a landmark of a day in London. For me personally, it was two days before I had to leave my new best friends, and all the amazing adventures I had experienced while studying abroad. For the rest of the world, it was the day of the Royal Wedding. Luckily, I was in London on that day, which turned out to be a whole new adventure and one of the most memorable days of my life.

After spending five months in London, and traveling all across Europe, I could not believe that my time was almost over. Time really does fly by, and every single day while studying abroad was full of new experiences. Part of the excitement of the Royal Wedding was the week leading up to it. If you thought that there was a lot of excitement in America, you would not believe how it was in London. The Union Jack flags were put up all over Picadilly Circus, and every gift shop had new collector’s mugs, plates, even tea bags in honor of Will and Kate. My friends and I would walk around, taking in the news crews and regalia of it all.

Finally, Friday came. We woke up at 6 AM and put on our best dresses for the wedding. Although we did not have giant hats and fascinators like many actual Royal Wedding guests, we bought headbands with crazy adornments and wore them proudly. We walked through Regent’s Park, located right next to campus and our residence hall, feeling so lucky that we got to live in such a gorgeous part of London. We hopped on the tube at Baker Street to Hyde Park.

When we got to Hyde Park, we spread out our blanket and waited for the wedding to start. The viewing screens were ready, and we waited. As guests began to arrive, all of the people surrounding us cheered and the excitement grew. When the Queen got into her car, it amazed me how ecstatic the people were. They truly love their Queen and all that she symbolizes. When Kate Middleton stepped out of her car at Westminster Abbey, the excitement peaked and it felt magical. We couldn’t believe this was happening so close to us!

The whole wedding ceremony was an amazing blur. We watched with thousands of other people, and that made it all the more special. When the ceremony ended, and we could hear the bells ringing from Westminster all the way in Hyde Park, we knew we had to see a bit of the wedding in person. We ran from the Park towards Buckingham Palace, where we nudged ourselves in to see Will and Kate kiss on the balcony. That was one of the most memorable moments of my life. How many people can have an amazing five months, of studying abroad, then cap it off by being at a historical event!?

After the wedding, it was a bit sad. The wedding was over, and that meant that my time in London was almost over as well.  My friends and I wandered over near the Thames, and went to a pub for some pints, capping off a great day that I will never forget! This was definitely a unique experience that made me realize how glad I was that I picked London as a place to study abroad.

Photo Contest

Mercedes_Segovia_coverDear ASA Students,

You’re invited to participate in our annual ASA Photo Contest! 

 

 

 

PRIZES:

  • If your photo is chosen to appear in our catalog, you win a $25 Amazon gift certificate!

 

RULES:

  • SUBMISSION DEADLINE:  JULY 8, 2016
  • All photos must be HIGH RESOLUTION (at least 300 dpi).
  • You may submit as many photos as you want!
  • All photos must be sent to Chelsea@academicstudies.com.
  • By entering this contest, you agree to let ASA use your photo(s) in our marketing materials.
  • Winners will be notified by email.

 

WHAT MAKES A WINNING PHOTO?

  • Photos MUST represent these countries: Spain, Italy, France, Ireland, England/Scotland, Argentina, Costa Rica, Peru or Chile.  (Ex. We can’t use photos of your trip to Amsterdam because we don’t have a program there.)
  • We are looking for GROUP SHOTS OF STUDENTS taken in LOCATIONS OR SITES that are REPRESENTATIVE OF YOUR HOST CITY OR COUNTRY.
  • You are welcome to submit scenery shots, BUT photos containing groups of students will score higher!

We can’t wait to see your photos!

 

Community Service and Service Learning with ASA

More and more of our students apply to ASA with hopes of having a chance to give back to their community in the form of service. To meet the demand, ASA has worked with our partner universities in several locations to develop courses and programs that include community service opportunities. So far, all of our students who have participated have given great feedback. They’ve not only given back to their community, but they’ve used their service hours to practice their new language with local residents, and have gotten to learn more about the local culture and economy in the process.

They feel good about themselves for sharing their skills, and putting time and energy into a project or organization that is important to them, all while helping others. Below you can read about the community service and service learning opportunities available in some of our fastest growing ASA programs. We look forward to you joining us in our mission to give back to the communities that have been so welcoming to our students, and to us. You won’t regret it, we promise!

Vina del Mar, Chile

At the Universidad Vina del Mar (UVM), students who demonstrate an Intermediate level of Spanish or higher are able to enroll in a course entitled “Cultures in Contact”. This credit-bearingcourse introduces students to international and Chilean intercultural communication studies focusing on the origin of the cultures to achieve greater understanding of differences and similarities of each culture. Students choose among the non-profit foundations with a relationship with UVM to perform volunteer work during 2 hours each week. Robert, a Fall 2012 student, took this course and was able to participate in English teaching workshops as part of his volunteer participation.

San Jose, Costa Rica

Starting in Fall 2013, our partners at ICDS Costa Rica will offer a new service-learning course entitled “Community Engagement and Sustainable Human Development”. This credit-bearing course will provide students the opportunity to participate in community work, complemented with reflection spaces in the classroom along with discussions about topics of local human development processes in urban Costa Rica. Through ICDS’s strong relationships and collaborations with many different organizations in the San Jose community, the course will offer rich and varied service opportunities to students who enroll in this course.

Cuzco, Peru

In Cuzco students have the option of volunteering a few hours a week at a Health Clinic for children with special needs. Students set their own hours and develop their own projects as well as aiding the other volunteers at the clinic with performing daily tasks. Seen below is Kelsey, a Summer 2011 student, spending time with one of her favorite patients at the clinic. She said she fell in love with Peru thanks to her summer studying abroad with ASA and her time volunteering at the clinic.

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Global Grins
One of our favorite organizations is Global Grins. Before departure all students are encouraged to participate in the program, and those who choose to will be sent a box of toothbrushes to distribute when they arrive abroad. Previous students who have participated have reported that it has been a wonderful way to give back to their new communities, meet new people, and help bring a brighter smile to the faces of children around the world. Students have brought toothbrushes to hospitals in Buenos Aires, orphanages in Dublin, and homeless shelters in Lima.

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