Congratulations to all the winners of the 2018 Study Abroad Photo Essay Contest!

1st place will receive $100 - Joey Lewis

2nd place will receive $75 - Kylie Schirber

3rd place will receive $50 - Molly Manske

Photos will be hung in Mabee Library on Washburn Campus!
The Office of International Programs would like to thank all the students who participated in the contest: Alexis Balaun, Rick Bihler, Sayaka Kine, Jera Richardson and this year's judges: Jennifer Somers (Digital Media Specialist), Andrea Thimesch (Information Literacy Librarian), Liviu Florea (Professor of Management)

Joey Lewis, 1st Place, SR, Athletic Training, WU Faculty-led Program: Study Abroad in Belize City, Belize, Winter 2018

"An UnBELIZEable Experience"

The Belizean people as a whole blew me away. I’ve never met an entire population that took relaxing and enjoying life so seriously. Their motto is literally “Go Slow.” As friendly as us Midwesterners are, we have nothing on Belizeans. Every step I took was matched by a wave and a cheeky grin from the locals. I’m pretty sure I went two straight weeks without seeing a single frown! They are optimism personified, and they always make an effort to make somebody else’s day. I aspire to live like them, and hopefully make the people I interact with on a daily basis feel as great as the Belizeans made me feel during my stay with them.

The children were role models in their own right as well. Some of them came from what I will just call less than ideal situations, and yet there’s not a down soul to be found. Despite any of the circumstances that they were dealing with, they were always happy, and ready for the next adventure. They had no stop in them. As much as we were teaching them, they were teaching us. The way that the children smile through anything and have tunnel vision aimed at the bright side is beyond admirable, and is something that I will surely do my best to emulate.

Free time is a little different in Belize as well. When they’re not doing their best sea turtle impression in a hammock on the beach, Belizeans are great at doing what I call “finding more life.” Good luck finding a child glued to a TV; not for lack of funds though, or due to their remote locations either. Rather, that’s just the lifestyle the children choose to live. They yearn for more life, which they seem to realize can’t be found inside a TV or an XBOX. On the contrary, from what I gathered anyway, they seem to find more life somewhere under the sun, usually with a ball and some friends. Granted, their weather and close proximity to each other is conducive to a spending the evening with friends out in the beautiful Belizean air, but it’s still an admirable lifestyle.

Especially among the children, sports dominate recreation time for sure. And although they are competitive, the games are rarely organized. Traditional organized sports and club teams seem to have a way of replacing the fun with seriousness, which is something that they have no interest in. The more the merrier too, they’ll take anyone as long as they can make the teams even. This obviously led to some great times for me.

Overall, I had the time of my life, and was blessed with the opportunity to experience a new culture, one that I fell in love with. I aspire to emulate the spirit that I saw from the people down there. Studying abroad has easily been one of the brightest highlights of my college career, and I’m glad that I took the leap of faith to embark on this journey. My experience was definitely transformational, and I would go as far as to call it an UnBELIZEable one as well!

Kylie Schirber, 2nd Place, SR, Nursing, WU Faculty-led Program: Nursing Perspectives - Central America Mission Project - Heredia, Costa Rica, Winter 2018

"Studying abroad in Costa Rica"

Studying abroad in Costa Rica was an unforgettable experience to say the least. The nursing students and I gave some much needed care to over 500 people. One girl I spoke with came from Nicaragua on a 4 day walk. The love for life that the people had despite their need for basic necessities like a toothbrush, a clean bed, or a pair of shoes to wear is something that I have never had to face. Below are some of my favorite moments from studying abroad. The people were so grateful for our philanthropy, but little do they know how much they impacted my life in return.

The first picture is of me looking into a little girl’s ear. She was being so brave and her mother was grateful for the treatment.

The second is a picture of people waiting to be seen by the nursing students and faculty of Washburn. This picture does not do justice to the amount of people seen that day. The line goes all the way around the brick red wall and down the street. Every person in this picture has a story. Whether it’s the mother in the turquoise shirt who is breastfeeding her baby, or the young boy in the back sitting on the ledge trying to comfort his younger sister. They all came to see Washburn Students who are dedicating their time and money to provide quality care. What a great day to be an Ichabod!

The little girl in the third picture is from a city called, “Inferninos”. This translates to, “Little Hell” in English. A church cooked up a big pot of potato and chicken soup, rice, bread, and a sweet drink for the children that live here. It is one of the poorest and most dangerous cities in Costa Rica. We were told that this is the only hot meal that her and the other children of this city will get all week. The church comes to this spot every Saturday to provide this much needed hot meal.

This last picture is probably the one that hits closest to home. The mission project that Washburn partnered with donated over 2,500 pairs of shoes to the people of Costa Rica. People stood outside for hours in the sun just to receive one pair of shoes. This little girl is around 7 years old. She works in the coffee bean fields picking coffee beans from 4am to 3pm for 5 dollars a week. She came in caked in mud. Her shoes had holes in them and were probably two sizes too small. When we took her shoes off her toes looked misshapen from being scrunched into her shoes. She was smiling ear to ear walking out with not one, but two pairs of new shoes. One for today, and one to grow into. Moments like this make me eternally grateful for how I grew up and makes me feel compelled to help those who weren’t so lucky.

Molly Manske, 3rd Place, JR, Social Work & Spanish, WU Faculty-led Program: Live and Learn in Havana, Cuba, Winter 2018 

"Livin' like a Cuban"

                During my nine-day faculty-led study abroad program to Havana, Cuba, I, along with my fellow classmates, immersed ourselves into the rich and vibrant Cuban culture. Our time in Cuba taught us about the importance of history, culture, and the value of communication. The learning aspect of the trip came in many different ways. We were taught during the mornings in small, intimate classrooms that provided us with a very comfortable and interactive environment for learning. Our professors were able to give very detailed information on the history and culture of Cuba while incorporating Spanish throughout the entire program. We took a lot of the information we learned about the Cuban culture and daily lifestyle with us during many of our conversations with Cuban natives. We were able to ask natives we met on our many excursions about the communist government, food, culture, dancing and much more.

We learned about the infamous Cuban cigars and the tedious work that takes place in tobacco factories. We learned how to express ourselves by using our recently taught Salsa skills, some were defiantly better than others. We also learned about how important it is to immerse ourselves into a culture completely, whether that be by trying new foods, learning how to dance a new dance, listening to the history of the country or even talking and learning about the stories of people who have lived in Cuba their whole lives.

Our experience in Cuba, a former foreign country to all of us, left us with knowledge and respect for a country that we would have previously not been able to visit without the opportunity that Washburn study abroad provided us with. Though our trip was not as long as other study abroad experiences, it was full of educational and cultural experiences that helped enrich our educations as a whole and helped provide a first study abroad experience to some of the students. These photos show some examples of how myself, along with other Washburn students, learned to live like Cubans for nine days.

We tasted the Cuban lifestyle, learned that Cuban kids are a lot better dancers than us. We also learned the amount of work it takes to make one Cuban cigar, and made sure our Cuban cigars tasted just right, While learning about Cuban animals and wildlife, it got a little more interactive than we thought. 

Alexis Balaun, Sr, Fine Arts, WU Exchange Program: PXL University College - Hasselt, Belgium, Spring 2018

"New Habits"

It takes 21 days to create a habit, and maybe those habits are your norm for the first 20 years of your life.  One way to break all of them at once is to hop on a plane that takes you across the Atlantic. Maybe stay there for a couple months, or five.

            A lot of things changed when I went to Belgium. I could not take my laundry home and leave my clothes in my mother's dryer all weekend. I could not hop in my car the second I wanted to be somewhere else and just go there. I could not expect my best friend to talk to me at lunch time. There was a seven-hour time difference.

            Some of the things I learned in Belgium included operating a laundromat in Dutch. Busy cobblestone streets and cafes surrounded the laundromat and made the chore almost fun. My Jordanian friend and I found the best ice cream shop not far down the street from the laundromat. Now I crave ice cream whenever I do laundry. I learned how to plan a weekend trip to another country in which I would ride a bike a train and a bus. I also learned to stop fearing meeting new people. I decided that no matter where you go there are always people who want to spend time with you, even if they don't know it yet. I met three life long friends by sticking my head out of my room when I heard laughter in the hallway. Four months later I way staying at their homes in Scotland and now they are planning a trip to America.

            Nowhere in the world is quite like Topeka Kansas but anywhere you go you will find good friends and adventure. Going to Belgium made my world so much bigger. My trip grew into this exploration of so may countries, not because of me but because of the people I met.

Richard Bihler, Sr, German Language & Literature, WU Exchange Program: Hochschule Osnabruck University of Applied Sciences, Germany, Spring 2018

"Unforgettable Experience"

It all started with meeting the international students. My freshman year I made a lot of friends during orientation week. Some from my dorm hall but most from foreign countries. It was an unforgettable year, first year in college, living away from home, first girlfriend, and so on. There was only one issue I didn’t foresee. All my friends were going back home at the end of the year and not coming back… That last day when I took my closest friends to the airport was the worst. Sad, quiet, and wet. So, I fixed that my working and then flying to China for a month, where I volunteered in a summer camp, and finally saw my closest friends again. I didn’t the same thing the following year and summer with new friends and seeing the ones from the year before as well. I decided I didn’t want to do it like that again.

So, I took a semester and stayed pretty quiet in the international student scene just helping with my duties as a Presidential Ambassador for International Students while preparing, finally, for my own semester abroad to finish my Major German language and literature in Osnabrück, Germany. As my own international student that last semester I couldn’t really be “quiet” in the international student scene, nor did I want to be. I studied, partied, made friends, never did homework (classes didn’t assign any, just final 2-hour test at the end).

Oh, and I traveled too, the traveling couldn’t have been better. Our Osnabrück Hochschule student ID cards gave us free regional train access so within the first month we had been to every noteworthy city in the same region as Osnabrück. Including but not limited to Hamburg, Bremen, Bremerhaven, Münster, and Hengelo. I did this with my closest friends from Thailand, Florida, Laos, and South Korea. The five of us did everything in “regular lives” together too. Gym 6 days a week. Way too many Döner dinners too count. World cup public viewings. And much more. We are still in touch for the most part but have moved back into our new lives. The time was so good there though and I didn’t accept that it was ending so I applied to study abroad again this time to go to China. Which is where I am writing this now. I’m making friends and roof topping in Shanghai waiting for classes to begin. Here I will work on my International Business minor and study Chinese. These opportunities are much easier to come by because of the flexibility of college classes and schedules versus a full-time career schedule. Everyone should really hop on this type of adventure to learn something you actually won’t forget.

 Sayaka Kine, Sr, Criminal Justice, WU Summer Program: King's College London, Summer 2018

"London, I'll Be Back"

It was my second time visiting London. The first time was when I was 16 years old. I asked my parents to allow me to attend a summer school in East Bourne which is the ocean side city in England. My parents allowed me to go, so I attended the 2 weeks of summer school. During the stay, I visited London a day from East Bourne. A day was too short to see everything but I fell in love with the city and promised to the city I will come back soon.

5 years later, I was accepted to attend the summer program at King’s College London. I finally my dream of coming back to London came true.

I arrived in London 2 days before the program starts, so I home stayed in London for 2 days. The pretty house with the beautiful small garden was what I dreamed to see. Lady in the house let me drinking afternoon tea in the garden and told me many stories and I felt so welcome in London.

After 2 days of staying in the house, I moved to the college dormitory. The dormitory was 7 street building standing in central London, so I could see the best view of London from my room. I did not know any students who were taking the same class, but as soon as I entered the class, we started talking and decided to eat lunch together with a small group.

The classmates had diverse backgrounds. The students were from all over the world including Europe, Africa, Asia, North America and so on. Moreover, there were graduate and undergraduate students studying different subjects, so class discussion about terrorism with people who have different background became a wonderful learning experience, and I realized that the fact that we are living in the world where it is allowed to openly discuss the world issues without being scared is very special and wonderful. And I really hope that it will apply to all the countries in this world and I hope everyone will support each other to make a better world.

 Jera Richardson, Sr, Mass Media, WU Summer Program: John Cabot University - Rome, Italy, Summer 2018

"Electric Summer Abroad"

My international experience abroad this summer was one like none other. Not only did I take a art class in Rome, Italy at the John Cabot University. I got to travel to Venice, Amalfi Coast, Greece, Switzerland, and Spain all on the weekends. My eyes became wide open to the different culture and I soon began to compare the different things they do or say compared to America. Some of the things I wrote down were no dryers, didn't split checks, pay for water at restaurants, don't believe in ice, 9 piece chicken nugget at McDonalds instead of 10 and so on. There are all things I took for granted!

The art class I took this summer took place at special monuments such as churches, landmarks, and different statues. The class was two days a week for three hours. During this time our teacher would give us a different thing to think about in the aspect of our drawing. For instance, one day we had to focus on perspective and draw through a little window. That picture is one of the ones I picked. I thought it was great to show a little part of what we actually did in class. It was hard to draw in Rome based off of how pristine and precise their architecture is.

The next picture I choose was of me eating pizza at a restaurant close to campus. I had never been to Italy before. I could not wait to try a pizza because I had been told it was completely different, and even better that in the United States. They did not lie, the pizza came out as big as my face with interesting toppings that are not the same in the US. Learning about the culture in the food aspect is very different than what we eat in the US.

On our Wednesday off we ventured down to the Vatican and got tickets to listen to the Pope speak. We learned he does this every Wednesday for people to come out and listen to him. In one of my pictures, I got close enough for him to bless my rosaries. That was a touching experience.

In the picture of the mountains we are in Switzerland for the weekend. We stayed in a hostel, that is a learning experience itself, and hiked the Swiss Alps. Something I found very interesting is their is what they call pure cows all up in the mountains we hiked. They all wear cowbells around their neck so you can hear them coming when you hike.

My last picture is also Molly and I featured in the Swiss Alps. We decided to take a 360 boat tour in the lake. The water is off of the glaciers and is so clean that you can drink it right out of the lake. Overall this learning experience is one I'll never forget and always treasure forever.

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