Monday, January 9, 2017

A Year in the Life of a Study Abroad Applicant - Part VII: Starting my Application to Study Abroad

Hi everyone!

(Almost) welcome back for the spring semester! I know class is still one week away, but I’m already thinking about the things I need to do when I get back to campus. This semester will get off to a busy start for me – and all of my fellow Tulane students out there who are planning to study abroad in the fall – because our Tulane applications are due on February 17th! The application is online on the OSA website – basically, when you are visiting the program brochure page of the program you’d like to apply for (as an example, here is the University College Dublin program brochure), you can just click the “Apply Now” button on the top right-hand side of the page. Then you log in to the site using your Tulane username and password, select the term and, voila, you have created an application!

Before I get into the weeds here, I want to make sure that everyone understands the difference between the Tulane application and the secondary application. In order to study on a Tulane-approved program, you have to apply through Tulane on the OSA website. This post will go into a lot of detail explaining that application! Many other programs have what we call a “secondary” application as well that you will have to complete. For example, to go to UCD (University College Dublin), you have to fill out the Tulane application and the University College Dublin application, which is available on their website. These applications are not due by Tulane’s deadline, you can fill them out in advance of their deadline. It’s always a good idea to look at the secondary application while you’re filling out the Tulane application in case the secondary app requires something like a faculty recommendation or language evaluation – you can get them at the same time that you’re talking to your professors and advisors for the Tulane app! You can determine if your program has a secondary application by looking at the top part of the program brochure.

OK, back to the Tulane application: Make sure that you select the program you’re really interested in when you start your application! (If you decide to switch to a different program before the deadline, you should email the study abroad office to let them know instead of creating a new application. They’ll be happy to switch it over for you.)

Once you log in, there are two different places that are really useful to look. One is the Applicant Home. (I put a screenshot below – it’s one made by a staff member in the office, so it doesn’t have any of my info on it! She has a few more program applications out there, so ours won’t look exactly the same…) You can get there by clicking the little house icon on the left side of the toolbar. The applicant homepage is nice because you are able to see all of the messages that have been sent to you through the online system. It’s really important to check on those every now and then, in case the actual messages don’t make it through your spam filter…These emails usually contain really important information like deadlines and visa info and official letters…don’t ignore them so you don’t miss anything important!

Click here for a larger version of this image
The second place where I will be spending a lot of time is the actual application portal. You get there by clicking on the program name on the left-hand side of the screen, under application! Once you click on the program name, you get to the application itself, which has a number of boxes on the right hand side. Basically, you should just click through each of the boxes and read the instructions. I’ll point out some of the things I think are really important for us to think about.

First off, there are some application requirements that we can control, time-wise, like our academic statement, the list of courses we plan to take, and our signatures on a bunch of the forms. They’ll be finished as soon as we finish them. On the other hand, we also have to rely on other people to complete the application! So, I’ll focus on those items today and in my next post, I’ll talk about the other requirements.

The big one: the passport! If you don’t have a passport yet, get one ASAP. Why? Well, first of all, you need to submit a copy of your passport as part of your study abroad application. If your passport application is being processed, you can write that and your study abroad application will still be considered, but I’d advise everyone to get their passports as soon as possible. Your passport should be valid for at least six months after the end of your study abroad program. So, if you’re going to Dublin until May of 2018, your passport should expire in December 2018 or later. (Seems like forever from now!) The reason for this is also the reason that you should get your passport ASAP: Visas and Customs!

Most of us will need to apply for a visa in order to study in our host country. (More details on that later.) Both, the staff who process visas and the officials that work in customs want to see that your passport is valid for at least six months after your program ends, so start doing that math and if you need to get a new passport, go ahead and apply before the semester gets too crazy.

The other part of the application that will require you to rely on other folks are all of the advisor approvals and a faculty recommendation! Since somewhere between 300 and 400 Tulane students study abroad each fall, professors and advisors have a lot of requests, so I think it’s a really good idea to ask them as early as possible. Most programs only require that a professor “approve” that you are a good candidate to study abroad. They don’t really even need to write a letter. With your academic advisor and major advisor, you’re expected to meet with them and go over the classes you plan to take and how you think they’ll fulfill your requirements at Tulane. (I did this at the end of the fall semester.) Then, just ask them if they’d sign off on your application. If they agree, you’ll type in their email address and the application system will automatically send them an email!

If your secondary application also requires faculty recommendations, language evaluations, or any other approvals, you can get all of this at the same time, or at least talk to your professors all at once. It’s definitely a good idea to know what your secondary application requires when you start the Tulane approval process

The last thing I will do is order an official transcript so that I can upload it to the application system. Ordering a transcript is super-easy and free, if you just walk over to the registrar’s office to get it. You can get one free transcript per week, and just keep in mind that it takes 3 days to process, so try to go get one as soon as you get back to campus. If you don’t mind spending a few bucks, you can also order them through. If you don’t mind spending a few bucks, you can also order them through your Gibson account online. The transcript should contain all of my grades from up to the fall semester, so just be sure that you request that the transcript is held until all of your fall grades are posted.  

OK, for those of us that don’t like big, thick paragraphs, here is a very concise pictograph to explain what I’ve just written!
Click here for a larger version of this image


Friday, December 9, 2016

Weekly Newsletter

Welcome to the Tulane Study Abroad Blog!


Hopefully everyone is studying hard in preparation for their finals, and looking forward to winter break! If you need a study break, you have come to the right place. This weekly blog is sharing the interesting holiday celebrations around the world.


A Myriad of Traditions



This article contains an abundance of information about Europe’s Christmas Festivals, Festive Christmas Cities, and some crazy holiday traditions that take place all around the world. Check out the link here for more!

Budapest, Hungary



This article depicts Budapest Christmas markets, filled with amazing food, drinks, crafts, ice skating, and other annual ceremonies.

Latin America Celebrations



Want to know how to really enjoy the holiday season in Latin America? This article gives a list of ten amazing festivities and traditions that take place in a variety of Latin countries… some of these have lasted more than a century!

Philippines



One of the most populous nations in Asia, and also predominantly Christian, the citizens of the Philippines celebrate Christmas from September to January. Learn more about these beautiful traditions on CNN’s website!

Celebration of Kwanzaa



Jessamyn Reichmann, a student from Loyola University of New Orleans, writes about the history of Kwanzaa, its importance, and the variety of Kwanzaa celebrations that take place right here in New Orleans! Click here to read more about it.

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If, on your return back to New Orleans for the spring semester, you find yourself missing the holiday season, worry no more! We live in a city full of celebration year-round. One of the unique celebrations in New Orleans is Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. This is the most important holiday for the Vietnamese. To learn more, check out these two sites!


We at the Study Abroad Office wish everyone a wonderful winter break filled with family time and relaxation. Looking forward to seeing y’all back here in January!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Study Abroad Program Search!

Over the past few months, we've been working on updating the search feature on our website and we're happy to announce it's ready to go just in time for winter break! For those of you that are considering study abroad in the fall of 2017 or the 2017-18 academic year, winter break is the perfect time to do some research before coming back to campus in January. The application deadline is just over two months away on February, 17. Hopefully, our "Year in the Life of a Study Abroad Applicant" series has been keeping you well informed. This post can give you some ideas on how to use the search feature to find the right program for you! 

Using the Advanced Search feature, you can search for a study abroad program in lots of different ways. 

Search By Major: 

As you progress throughout your four years at Tulane, you’re taking care of the lower-level major requirements that are necessary before you can take some of those upper level core and elective courses. You probably want to find a program where you can take major courses that enhance what you are already doing at Tulane. Good news! The Major search function has just been updated so you should be able to find your major and pull up a list of programs that offer coursework in your field. Once you get that list, you can start visiting program websites to see what types of courses are offered and if they fit your requirements and interests! Here are some examples of programs by major:


This search option provides a great jumping off point to discover programs that offer your major courses. Always make sure to visit the course listing page of the program website to make sure that the program offers the courses that you need. If you don't see your major listed, or can't find a program based on your major, send an email to our office!

Search By Language:

If you know you would like to study in the language you’re studying at Tulane, you can use the advanced search option to limit results by language! Check out what comes up for each of the languages that are offered at Tulane: Arabic, Chinese*, French, German, Italian, Japanese*, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish

*Students of Asian languages should also look at National University Singapore.

Search By Program Model: 

Our website describes the three different program models to which study abroad programs generally conform. Some programs offer the opportunity for students to directly enroll at a host institution, the “classic model of study abroad,” and required a high degree of independence. Alternatively, hybrid programs combine direct enrollment with study abroad program support. You can research the various program models on our website and search for program based on model: Direct Enrollment, Cohort/Island, Hybrid

Search By Duration:

Historically, “study abroad” has been known as JYA, or junior year abroad, a time when students spend an entire academic year on an international program. While study abroad for a full year has many, many benefits, it’s not always a feasible option. Your on-campus commitments to such activities as Student Government, Greek Life or community service may prevent you from being able to go abroad for a full year. Have no fear, the Office of Study Abroad offers programs for fall or spring only, as well as over the summer! 

We hope this little search tutorial is helpful for those of you that plan to spend (at least a small part) of your well-deserved winter break looking at your study abroad options!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Weekly Newsletter

Welcome to Tulane’s Study Abroad Blog!


Happy (almost) Thanksgiving! One more week of working hard in classes until a well-deserved break.


ANNOUNCEMENTS


Now is the time to register for classes! Are you studying abroad in the fall semester? Consider registering for COLQ 3050-01 Global Cultural Awareness: Preparing to Study Abroad. This is the first course is to be taken before studying abroad and is the first in a series of three 1-credit courses that meets once a week on Wednesdays from 3-5 from March 8-April 12th and will help you capitalize on your study abroad experiences, set up an internship, service, or "wild card" experience abroad, and help you learn the skills in intercultural communication to put you on track for an international career. For more information contact Prof. Annie Gibson agibson3@tulane.edu.


For full size click here.

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Want to study abroad in Cuba during the Fall of 2017? Attend this info session on November 21st at 3:00 PM, during our weekly Global Cafe!



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The Annual "Pot Luck" Thanksgiving Dinner is sponsored by The Office for International Students and Scholars and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

The dinner began as a means to provide a place for those international students who do not have a place to go for a Thanksgiving Dinner or who have never experienced an American Thanksgiving tradition and has sense expanded to include in any interested Tulanian who wishes to share in the experience of Thanksgiving with the Tulane community.

The Thanksgiving Dinner is traditionally held the Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving Day. Students, faculty and staff bring specialty dishes as additions to the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner. Faculty and staff volunteer to serve the meal and an average of 800 people participate in the feast every year.

To volunteer for the event, please e-mail oma@tulane.edu or go here.

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POLITICAL ANNOUNCEMENTS


Students participating in programs abroad often encounter host country nationals who are curious about our political system and very clued in to current events taking place in United States politics. One way to engage meaningfully with locals is to be informed about our political process and the different viewpoints of major and minor parties in our country. Make sure you are informed!
Here are some resources to start brushing up on your knowledge of politics in the U.S.
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Come to this Q&A with Professor Brian Brox to learn about the impact of this election on your international experiences.




This Q&A information session with Political Science Professor Brian Brox will discuss the U.S. political system, the way it typically functions in presidential transitions, and to answer any questions you may have about what might come next, what impacts the transition could have on immigration, our international student community, travel, and even your upcoming semester abroad.

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JOB ANNOUNCEMENTS


Interested in becoming more involved with the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival? The Cultural Exchange Pavilion team is hiring a Spanish-speaking intern to assist with translation and interpretation in preparation for the festival. More details provided in the attached image:
Applicants may forward their resume to International@nojazzfest.com and cepadmin@nojazzfest.com.

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Looking for an internship next spring? The Latin American News Digest is hiring! This is a great opportunity for students to learn about Latin American events while writing for the Digest! Check out this link for more info.

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Are you graduating this year and not sure what your next step is? Spend a year studying, interning and living in Germany through the Cultural Vista's Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals! For more info, click here.
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Are you in pursuit of a career that utilizes your international experiences? Carpe Diem, based in Portland, Oregon, is an organization looking to hire program directors for their student trips. Check out this job description if you are interested: Page 1, Page 2


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INTERESTING READS


Read this article, "Optimizing your International Experience for Career Success", to learn how your study abroad experiences can benefit your future career, and other ways to make yourself competitive for international jobs!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A Year in the Life of a Study Abroad Applicant - Part VI: Registration for the upcoming semester before study abroad!

Hey Tulane! 

Happy start to the holiday season! It’s already nearing the end of the semester, which means that everyone is starting to plan their schedules for the spring as registration approaches. For me, spring registration means that I need to start thinking seriously about what classes I want to take before, during, and after my time abroad. According to my advisors, I should plan carefully because it’s possible that some of my major or minor requirements will not be available where I study. So, even if a course is normally taken during junior year, I might need to see if I can take it this spring or even senior year after I get back. I also don’t want to schedule something this spring at Tulane if I can find a version of it abroad…if you're planning to study abroad, you might be thinking what I'm thinking...

How do I even begin?

Well, good news! I've talked to everyone in the know to come up with some pretty basic steps that can get you (and me!) started. 

Based on some advice from different advisors, I began by using an exploratory degree audit (available to all of us in trusty Gibson) to look at my major and minor requirements. By identifying what classes I still need to take, I can analyze what should be taken next semester before I go abroad. I know that I want to study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country, and I saw that Tulane requires students to enroll in a Spanish class the semester prior to going abroad, so I’ll definitely prioritize fitting that in.

My next step was to identify the classes that I could potentially get credit for while abroad. I’ve heard that many students take their elective courses during this time, because it is easier to get transfer credit. Most university websites provide listings of what classes they offer, and you can always email the professors for sample syllabi. However, the best indication of what you can get credit for is by talking to your major advisor. I just had a meeting with my major advisor this week, and she told me that my department will only accept two classes worth of credit from abroad. Good to know!

The study abroad office also updates the courses that students have taken in the past on their website. If you are having a hard time finding courses on the foreign university site, just go to the program brochure page on Tulane’s OSA site and look for the link, “Courses students have taken.” For example, here is a list of all the courses students have taken at the University of Sydney, just to give you an idea.  

Also, don’t forget your Newcomb-Tulane College requirements! Tulane has a 120 credit hour requirement for all students, which will probably be more than what is required for your majors/minors. In addition, before you study abroad, you have to complete the first tier of your core curriculum requirements. You should be able to see your progress in your degree audit and, if not, you can definitely ask an advisor. If you still have some of those to get out of the way, it might be a good idea to sign up for them this spring!

You want to make sure that you can study abroad when it works for you and graduate on time, so it is ESSENTIAL to plan these things beforehand.

I definitely used some of the resources here on campus – the people! I met with my academic advisor, study abroad advisor and major advisor to plan for next semester’s registration. Here’s a breakdown of what kinds of questions you can ask these folks: 

Academic Advisor: Your academic advisor is your go-to person for all schedule-planning. They help you when picking your classes, and are the people who make sure you graduate when you plan to. Academic advisors must also sign off that they approve of your study abroad plans, so it is important to meet with them before you apply.

Study Abroad Advisor: This advisor’s role is to assist you throughout your entire study-abroad process. From helping you to understand the policies and procedures for study abroad, finding a program or helping you set achievable goals for your international experience (and preparing you to go!), the folks in the study abroad office are ready to help!

Major Advisor: Like I said before, your major advisor can help you figure out which classes you should take abroad, and also explain the process for getting major credit for the classes that you take abroad. Once you have narrowed down which program you are interested in applying for, you can look at the classes you are interested in, and then ask your advisor about the potential of getting credit.

I'm also planning to take a course offered by the study abroad office, COLQ-3050: Global Cultural Awareness, to help me capitalize on study abroad and even set up an internship while I'm abroad. The course takes place during the last eight weeks of the semester, and connects study abroad students who are going all over the world. If you might be interested but aren't sure, just send an email to the professor, Annie Gibson




Soooo, as I begin to plan my schedule for the spring, these are the things I’ve been thinking about and working on. Back in August, this whole thing seemed so far away, but now I’m realizing that I can start filling out the application as soon as I’ve finished my schedule for next semester. It’s so exciting to think that in less than one year, I’ll be taking my classes in Spanish on the other side of the world! 


Weekly Newsletter

Hello Tulane!


Hopefully everyone is working hard in their classes, and excitedly preparing for the Thanksgiving holiday. 

Events coming up: 


We’ve got some important events coming up for those students studying abroad in the Spring of 2017. The Study Abroad Office is holding Regional Pre-Departure Orientation Sessions next week. Attend to develop skills for intercultural communication, learn pertinent knowledge about transitioning into your homestay, and get first-hand advice from students returning from your program and international students from that country! 





For more information, access the events below:

International Engagement Opportunities: 


Now is the time to register for classes! Are you studying abroad in the fall semester? Consider registering for COLQ-3050: Global Cultural Awareness in spring 2017 to help you capitalize on your study abroad experiences and set up an internship while you are abroad next fall.


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The deadline for the Critical Language Scholar Program is coming up! Have you ever wanted to learn a critical language, but never had the opportunity? Are you interested in becoming more competitive in the job market? Check out this amazing program offered by the U.S. Department of State


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Interested in becoming more involved with the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival? The Cultural Exchange Pavilion team is hiring a Spanish-speaking intern to assist with translation and interpretation in preparation for the festival. More details provided here. 

Applicants may forward their resume to International@nojazzfest.com and cepadmin@nojazzfest.com. 

Interesting Reads: 


This is a shoutout to Rae Robey, a Tulane student who published an article during her time on the CIEE program in Seville, Spain. The article, published in CIEE's magazine Mas y Menos, describes the lives of first generation Chinese students in Spain, and the blend between their Chinese heritage and the Western culture in which they live. Congrats Rae! 

Ouni Zhang outside of Hiper Oriente
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The ability to study abroad is an amazing gift, and one that Tulane students do not take lightly! Read this inspiring story about a Tulane alumna who received a scholarship to study abroad while in school, and then decided years later to create her own scholarship for future study abroad participants. 


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Anthony Bourdain, interviewed recently on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, reflects on the challenges of being an in-tune, culturally aware traveler. When offered an unsavory piece of an animal to eat (check out the interview to see what) while in a village in Namibia, Bourdain accepted even though the food wasn't the most, let's say, appetizing. Among other things in this interview, he describes why it's so important to take stock of the situation and the importance of the gesture rather than declining the offer: "What am I going to do, refuse him, embarrass him in front of his people, look ungrateful? That changes the whole tenor of the relationship. Find the full interview on NPR's website:



Weekly Events: 


Come meet internationally-minded Tulanians at our weekly Global Cafe: 

This is a great opportunity to interact with international students, returned study abroad students, study abroad advisors, and internationally-minded Tulane faculty and staff. Come join us for coffee desserts every Monday from 3-5 pm in the Pederson Lobby of the LBC!


Monday, October 31, 2016

A Year in the Life of a Study Abroad Applicant - Part V: Debriefing after the Study Abroad Fair

Hey everyone! 


I hope that you all enjoyed this past weekend as much as I did! Having Homecoming, Parents Weekend and Halloween all at the same time is a lot to take in, but I had a great time. In between all of the concerts and other events taking place last week, I found some time to think about my experience at the Study Abroad Fair, and figure out how to go forward with what I’ll plan to do my junior year. I know it seems early, since the deadlines aren’t until the spring, but with registration for classes next semester coming up, I want to make sure I meet any program prerequisites! Here are some of my thoughts:

I had the opportunity to see the fair from both sides – as a student worker, manning the Summer in Senegal table, and as an interested student. Although I did spend a lot of time working at the fair, I was also able to walk around and talk to all of the program representatives about the places that I was interested in. It was such a great opportunity to ask questions to people who know these programs better than anyone else! I was curious to learn more about studying abroad in all South American countries, as well as looking for programs with a Spanish language-immersion focus, since becoming fluent in Spanish is one of my main goals.

My first stop was the CIEE table! CIEE is one of the biggest study abroad providers in the world, offering programs on almost every continent. They offer many great programs in different locations in South America, like Buenos Aires, Santiago and Valparaiso, and they also offer programs with a focus on Environmental Studies (my major). Unfortunately, though, they don’t offer those programs in the same place! It was still cool to talk to the CIEE representative about some opportunities they offer, like internships or research programs. They also assist students in finding homestay families that will help teach the language, so we have another place to practice!

Another university-based option, like CIEE, that is great for language-immersion is Middlebury. They require you to sign a language pledge, promising that you will only speak in that chosen language during your entire experience. But just like with CIEE, I wasn’t quite able to find exactly what I was looking for in terms of what I could study in the right location.

After talking to the CIEE and Middlebury representatives about their programs, I made my way over to the SIT table. SIT, the School for International Training, offers very interesting programs. They are designed around a theme – such as their program in Managua, Nicaragua, “Youth, Culture, Literacy and Media,” or the one in Dakar, Senegal, “National Identity and the Arts.” Students intensively study their program’s theme by having a mix of class lectures, site visits, guest speakers and then pursuing an independent research project. SIT is awesome if you want to study a particular topic. For example, if you are a Public Health major, you can definitely find an SIT program – like the one in Durban, South Africa – that focuses on Public Health in that location. Then, you could use your research project to help inform your senior thesis or even apply for a Fulbright. (I know, that’s way in the future! I am probably getting ahead of myself a bit!) The one major drawback, for me, is that SIT does not offer year-long experiences. The programs are only semester-based. So, I could potentially spend one semester on one SIT program and then switch to another. But I’m not sure if that’s something I want to do. I was really hoping to spend my whole year in the same place so that I could make really deep connections while I’m there. Am I willing to spend a semester in one place, and transfer to another? That is definitely something I have to consider.

The most important thing that I realized by walking around the fair is that the aspects of a study abroad experience that I value most, when paired together, significantly narrow down my options. I am confident that I want to study abroad for an entire year in a Spanish speaking country. Because I have decided to go for a year, I need a program where I can take upper-level courses for my major (Environmental Studies) so that I can graduate on time. Really identifying my goals and what is most important is actually really great. Even though it narrows my options, it means that I can take an in-depth look at the programs that will work so that I can make the best decision. 

On the other hand, while I was working my own table, I realized that not everyone has the same constraints or goals that I do. Your options may be totally different if you only want to go abroad for one semester. Or, depending on your major, if you want to just focus on your minor or even become fluent in another language, you may have totally different options than I do. By figuring out what your goals are for your study abroad semester or year, you can come up with your very own, personalized list of study abroad options! 

I’m still considering my options, but my current dream is to directly enroll at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador. We will see what happens after some more research! I got some contact information of representatives at the fair, so I’ll make sure to reach out to them to learn more.

Until next time!

Emily