Welcome to WOU’s Photoblog for Students Abroad!


I’m pleased to introduce you to WOU’s photoblog for students who are studying or interning abroad.  I  invite you to follow our students on their journeys from pre-departure preparation through the return home.

Photoblogging is a wonderful way for students to share what they are learning, observing, and discovering in their new environments.  Enjoy the journey with them!

WOU’s photoblog is modeled on the Australian “Bringing the Learning Home” project developed by Jan Gothard, Greg Downey, Tonia Gray, and Linda Butcher, and with their permission, utilizes some of the materials from that project.  http://ozstudentsabroad.com/

Well, it here goes…

Tomorrow, I fly out to Ireland! I’m kinda nervous, as I never really have traveled before. I’ve only been out of the country twice, which were both to Canada. In addition, my dad accompanied me. Now, I’m sorta on my own to make my own decisions. One thing that I’m already concerned about is making sure that I bring enough with me. I have one big bag for clothes, a smaller one for various things, and a backpack to take me with across the country. Despite my nervousness, I am excited to go, and I’m really looking forward to what I will experience. My next challenge is to survive the flight, so wish me luck!

wow this week!

This week was just a mix of bad and amazing.  I will start with the bad first.  Then end on a happier note.

Last weekend was awful!  my friend Sierra and I paid to go on a tour to see more history about Italy,  but we missed the tour,  Then my phone was stolen because my phone was stolen we missed our train,  Lastly we got stuck in a different city because apparently in Italy trains do not go far distances after 7:30 PM

Even though all this happened  This week was AMAZING.  Because we missed our tour we made our own day traveling,  while we did that we turning around to ask someone in the line for the bus if we needed a ticket,  The husband and wife tell us they cant help us because they are deaf!  (This is perfect because we are studying sign language)  So we got to try out our new LIS  (Italian sign)  skills. I would also like to add that the classes here are so fun!

Also In my last blog I talked about the different contradas and how the pallio was going to happen.  This week we got to see it!.  This event is no joke!  The tower contrada is the one what won.  Before the race there are parades, then the jokey are blessed and at this point can not be changed.  Then they have police bring a paper of the order of the line up that the horses will stand in.  Now this paper is extremely important because it determines how good you will probably do in the race.  Jokeys will try to switch places, because it has to be in this specific order it can take hours to start the race I would say we stood there for a good two hours waiting for them to quit cheating and get in order.  Then the race started at the end  people started cheering, crying, screaming.  I even saw a few fights brake out between enemy contradas  It was a huge thing.  It lasted from 3 pm- 12am and into the next day.  they paraded around the horses, they were singing, the campo (where the race happened)  was PACKED.  You could only stand there was barley any room, flags were all over the place.

I did a little digging into why people would be fighting,  Apparently  contradas that know they can not win will group up to help another or try to hurt their enemy.  For example, a jokey in a contrada that will not win may whip another jokey or their horse,  sometimes they knock them off their horses, It is really insane.

I really can not explain well enough how amazing and intense the whole pallio was you would defiantly have to see it in person.

Below are pictures of the parade, a horse that raced, and how packed the campo was.



Week One in Queretaro

What a whirlwind of a week! So far I have really loved my classes. Coming early with the other Western students was so worth it because we were able to get a feel for the city before classes started. This past Sunday we met our host families for the first time. Mine ended up not working out so I am currently being relocated. Which is for the better! Between getting lost on my way to school and getting sick from the difference in food, it has been crazy. But so, so worth it. Each night we have been out exploring the town which has been really awesome. I am so glad that our group has a really good, strong dynamic. Classes are difficult but my ability to converse in Spanish is already improving remarkably. It is crazy to switch your whole brain around to a different language. Writing back to home in English actually takes some effort. I am looking forward to meeting my new host family and being a little more settled in. image-2image-3

Arrival in Queretaro

We flew into a smaller airport so we were first in line at customs which was a welcome surprise to me. I was ready to answer any question that came my way but completely failed when I actually got up to the customs person. I didn’t fill out my customs form correctly and did not understand that in the least when he tried to tell me – embarrassing. Despite the fact that I had to get my luggage checked by a guard, they were both very nice trying to learn why we were here. We took about a 45 minute cab ride to the hotel and we were ready to take a nap! The drive there was incredible though, it was so interesting how vastly different it was in some places and how other places reminded me of Oregon. The city we are in has cobble stone roads and is lined with unique, traditional style buildings. It very much reminds me of Venice, Italy. image

Pre- Departure to Queretaro

I am a little late doing this but remember the feelings well! I think that it didn’t really hit me that I was going to be living in Mexico for over a month until I was sitting in the airport with my mom waiting to fly out. I was less nervous about everything because the Western group had the chance to go early and explore a little bit before students from the other schools came. Knowing that I had a readjustment period ahead of me was extremely comforting. I was always just concerned that my Spanish wouldn’t suffice with this new family that I was going to be living with. Despite all of the nerves I couldn’t be more excited for this adventure though!


So, I’m Courtney and I’m half really excited and really nervous because I leave in less than a week for London. I’ve never flown by myself before which is part of the nerves but it should be fun (and it gets me out of work for a month so hey bonus). Honestly though I can’t wait to go and explore and have fun and figure out if British food is really as bad as everyone says it is. And I just recently found out that you’re not supposed to make eye contact with anyone while on the tube, so hey bonus for me because I hate eye contact with strangers.


Let’s get this show on the road.

First Day in Dublin

I left the U.S. on July 4th. The humor of heading to a foreign country during independence day was not lost on me or any other American on the plane. Lucky for me, I was able to say goodbye to my family (they were working and camping) before I left. Following that was the single greatest plane ride I have ever had.

Only about half the plane was full so we each got a seat entirely to ourselves. I am not joking, I made a nest in mine. It was great. A whole section of the plane was dedicated to me. And on our seats are what I am not calling the bags of awesome. They had everything you could possibly want to survive a plane flight: tooth brush, face mask, ear plugs, and socks. Not to mention the blanket and pillow. Plus they gave me tea all the time! There is nothing greater than that.

Bag of Awesome

Then I landed and Ireland got a bit dimmer. Not because of the clouds or rain. But because of Customs. I made it there with no issue, but was delayed there. I told the official that I was a university student and he asked for my letter from the university. I did not have that. My university and study abroad program never sent me a letter from the university so I had no idea what was happening.

The offical asked me if I had a ticket to leave and I answer yes. From Warsaw in two weeks. He then clarified when I was leaving Ireland and to show him that. So I pulled up the information for my flight to London in two and half weeks and he let me go through. So I made it. But I am not pleased and now know whenever I enter a country I’m there for travel. Not school.

Nearly not allowed in Ireland.

Nearly not allowed in Ireland.

But my hotel room seems pretty awesome. I got my electronics plugged in to the powerstrip so they don’t explode and let everyone know I made it through safely. Tomorrow I’m thinking of heading back to the airport so I can jump on a bus tour of Dublin cause no one in my program shows up until Tuesday. So tonight I’m going to sleep and tomorrow I’m going to figure out where I actually am and hopefully get a more exciting picture of Ireland than this. Yay for plans!

View of Ireland

Zamora – Intro, Pre-departure, arrival!

I am late on writing about my intro, pre-departure and arrival. I have already been in Spain for a week and a half. I started my program a week ago. I have already been super busy, but enjoying my time.


Hello Everyone!! My name is Lidia and I am studying in Zamora, Spain for 6 weeks. Ill be completing my whole second year of Spanish. That is why I chose this program. I need my second year and I have always wanted to go to Spain. I am completing to things at once. It is also a great way to get to know a different culture and a different style of Spanish that people speak here.


I knew barely anything about Spain and its culture. I only knew that they speak Spanish and leave a different life style then the US does. I was very nervous to leave my home where I am comfortable at and know how to speak the language. I was worried that I would not be able to communicate well with my host family or other is the community. I wondered how it would all work out or if this town would have a good amount of English language people. I also did not like how bad the time difference was going to be. Its a 9 hour difference back home. I knew it would make it hard to every have time to communicate with my family and friends back home.

I did some research on the life style of people in Spain, what the young people like to do in their spare time and what the fashion was here! I did not want to stick out as a tourist, even though I would. I was told this town would be small, so I pictured it having old building, maybe a few places to shop, far from everywhere, and other things like that. I was hoping I would be wrong. This is what I say when I looked it up Zamroa!




I was nervous to arrival in Spain. My Spanish is not the best and I am somewhere that is foreign to me. Me and another classmate came a few days early before our program to explore Madrid. This was the best decision ever. Not only did I get to see other parts of Spain, but it gave me time to adjust to the time change, language and culture shock before meeting my host family and where I would be staying for 6 weeks.

When I arrived in Zamora I was greeted by my host dad and professor, along with my classmates family. It became real that I was about to depart from my English companion and be on my own. It was hard to communicate with my host family, but my host family is so understand and just awesome that I felt right at home right away. They let me know that I was free to make the house my house and just enjoy my time here.

My first outing to the town was that day I arrived. My host family took me to met their friends and my Spanish had to kick in them. They were all so nice. I did not expect that. I also got to explore the rest of the town with my classmates that evening and found out that there was a night life for people my age. The day I arrived, the town was having a huge festival so many people where there.

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Pre-Departure to Barcelona!

The nerves have set in! I hope I didn’t forget anything, and I hope I didn’t overpack! Even though I am only studying abroad for a month, I hope to make the best of my time there. I can’t wait to fall in love with the city, or to shop for groceries at a local market! This will be a special trip for me, because many years ago, my late uncle traveled the same streets on his own when he was just a little older than I am. I hope navigating in a city where I don’t speak the native language won’t be too troubling….at least I have mentors there that can help. As I’m sitting in the PDX airport I wonder what my parents are thinking. I have a feeling they are more nervous than I am! We had an awesome dinner last night at a Brazilian Steakhouse, and it was a good way to say farewell for just a short while. This summer is going to be one for the books.

See you soon, Barcelona!