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Jays Abroad Blog

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Welcome to the Jays Abroad Blog! Here you'll find a diverse collection of articles covering the international experiences of Creighton study abroad students past and present, tips and tricks, and information about programs.

This blog is maintained by the Creighton Study Abroad team. Articles are written by staff, GEO Peer Ambassadors, and study abroad alumni. To learn more about Creighton Study Abroad, visit

Do you want to contribute a blog post? Email 

Fall 2023

This week, I had the chance to sit down with a few bluejays who studied abroad in Bilbao, Spain at the Universidad de Deusto just last semester. These three students, Tyler, Allison, and Alicia, all gave me great info on what their experience was like and some recommendations they might have for any future study-abroad students.

Pre Arrival and Decision

For study abroad students, arrival is generally a time of mixed emotions. You can be excited, happy, nervous, worried, stressed, and optimistic all at the same time. Arrival for these three students was no expectation, however, they each shared with me some ways that they made it through their first couple of days.

For Tyler, arrival took place a few weeks before the semester started. He was enrolled in the intensive Spanish language course, which started earlier than other courses, but also wanted to get there in time for Aste Nagusia. Aste Nagusia, or "The Great Week" in Basque is a week-long festival in Bilbao filled with vibrant celebrations, concerts, and cultural events. Tyler dove right into the festivities, embracing the lively atmosphere and making new friends along the way. Despite knowing no one upon arrival, he was quickly able to make Bilbao begin to feel like home.

As for Allison and Alicia's sentiments, they spent time reflecting on their unique thoughts and motivation that led them to study abroad. Alicia reflected on how it was initially difficult to fit study abroad into her time here at Creighton. “I had to work with the Assistant Dean of Nursing to get all the classes finalized because they didn't offer what I needed. Otherwise, I would have fallen behind in the nursing program."

Allison felt this to be an important story for other potential study abroad students to learn from. "I feel like Alicia's story shows that when there's a will, there's a way. A lot of people I talk to, they're like, oh I really want to study abroad, but it's just not going to happen. I'm like, no, no, no, don’t say that, you can totally still make it happen. It is very much worth the effort"

Their exchange highlighted the common misconception that studying abroad might be out of reach for some individuals. Alicia's encouragement challenged this notion, emphasizing the possibility of realizing one's aspirations regardless of academic background or perceived limitations.

Allison: "Why did I want to study abroad? I don't know, I've just wanted to do it forever, since I was a kid, and also with the Spanish, I'm a Spanish major. And it was really important for me to spend some time in a Spanish-speaking country, and to really hone my skills."

More than anything, these three students did an incredible job of pushing past the obstacles that stood in their way and took full advantage of the opportunity that was in front of them.

​​Bilbao as a Place


The students unanimously agreed that Bilbao was a unique and welcoming place for study abroad. Alicia mentioned how the city's perfect size allowed for easy navigation, making it feel like home in no time. With sea cliffs, the ocean, a beautiful river, and surrounding mountains, Bilbao offered a picturesque setting for their academic adventure.

Alicia: "Basque Country is gorgeous. It's like, Bilbao is the perfect location because it's got sea cliffs, the ocean, this beautiful river in the city, and mountains surrounding it. So, if you like nature, it's basically perfect."

Tyler emphasized the significance of Bilbao's strategic location, providing access to various coastal villages and even neighboring France. The excellent public transportation, including an efficient metro system, made exploring the city and its surroundings convenient. The vibrant cultural scene, highlighted by festivals like Aste Nagusia, added a dynamic touch to their experience.

Tyler: "The metro connects most of the city, and all the way to the coast. And then the buses and trains connect everything else."

Tyler's insights underscored the practical advantages of Bilbao's infrastructure, facilitating seamless travel and enabling students to delve into the region's rich cultural tapestry. The accessibility of transportation networks enhanced their ability to immerse themselves fully in the vibrant atmosphere of Bilbao and its surrounding areas.

In discussing their experiences in Bilbao, both Alicia and Tyler emphasized the city's unique blend of natural beauty, cultural vibrancy, and logistical convenience. These elements converged to create an enriching environment that fostered personal growth and academic exploration for study-abroad students.

Host Families

Living with host families was a transformative aspect of their study abroad journey. Allison and Tyler shared heartwarming stories about their host families, fostering a genuine connection that extended beyond a typical student experience. From family dinners that improved language skills to inclusive invitations to local events, the host families played a crucial role in making Bilbao feel like a second home.

Allison: "It was so much fun. And we had dinner together every night, which was really nice, because I think it really helped me to improve my Spanish, because you're sitting there for two hours just talking."

Allison's reflection highlighted the close nature of her interactions with her host family, underscoring how shared meals became a platform for linguistic and cultural exchange. Through these daily conversations, Allison not only honed her language skills but also deepened her understanding of Spanish customs and traditions. For Allison, the shared experiences with her host family enhanced her understanding of Spanish culture beyond the classroom.

Tyler highlighted the unique opportunity to be fully immersed in Spanish daily life, thanks to his host family saying, "And it was really nice to see what it's like to actually live in Spain, not just be a student there."

Tyler's observation encapsulated the transformative nature of living with a host family, providing students with insights into the intricacies of Spanish life that extend beyond academic pursuits. Through their interactions with host families, students like Tyler gained a deeper appreciation for the cultural nuances that define daily existence in Bilbao.

In reflecting on their experiences with host families, both Allison and Tyler emphasized the profound impact that these relationships had on their study abroad journey. From language acquisition to cultural immersion, the bonds forged with host families enriched their understanding of Spanish society and contributed to a sense of belonging in Bilbao.


The experiences shared by Tyler, Allison, and Alicia paint a vivid picture of the transformative journey that studying abroad in Bilbao offers. From the initial excitement of arrival to the enriching encounters with host families and the captivating exploration of Bilbao and its surroundings, each aspect of their study abroad experience contributed to personal growth and cultural immersion.

Studying abroad in Bilbao offers a unique blend of academic rigor, cultural immersion, and adventure, making it a truly unforgettable experience for students seeking personal growth, academic enrichment, and cross-cultural understanding. As Tyler, Allison, and Alicia attest, the journey may begin with mixed emotions upon arrival, but it ultimately unfolds into a transformative odyssey filled with discovery, connection, and lifelong memories.

Written by Peer Ambassador: JJ Smith

Creighton student, Charlie Juckniess, studied abroad at the University of Limerick in Fall 2023. He was a part of the UL Student Ambassador Program and wrote an advice blog for students interested in studying there!

Click here to read about his experience!

I have always found that one of the best features of any photo storing or sharing application has been the “year ago today” updates. Every time I get an such an update, I smile and reflect on the great times I have had over the years, whether it be photos with high school friends, fun times from Gallagher Hall, or holiday gatherings I have shared with loved ones, I never fail to smile at these windows through time.

Recently, my “a year ago today” memories have been flooded with photos from my time spent abroad at John Cabot University in Rome. The Colosseum, the Vatican, the winding streets of Trastevere – each corner of Rome offers a new perspective on history, art, and life itself. These places are not just geographical landmarks; they are chapters in the story of my personal development. They've widened my horizons, allowing me to appreciate the beauty and diversity of the world in a way that no textbook ever could. I think of the amazing people I had the privilege of meeting, and the experiences we shared together. I think of the amazing places I had the privilege of going, and the time I spent discovering them. More than anything, I think of how all these memories stay with me today, here, in Omaha, at Creighton.

These experiences have granted me a unique lens through which to view the world, even in the familiar surroundings of my hometown. The culture, traditions, and people of Omaha now appear different, more intriguing, and valuable than before. I've come to realize that the beauty of cultural exchange is not just in what we gain abroad but in how we bring it home with us. My hometown is no longer just a place on the map; it's a part of the global mosaic, where the echoes of Rome and the lessons learned overseas resonate. The global becomes local, and our understanding of the world expands right in our own backyard.

So, when I receive those "a year ago today" updates, I don't just smile at the snapshots of the past; I embrace them as a testament to the enduring power of exploration, connection, and self-discovery. They remind me that life is a beautiful collage of moments, each contributing to the masterpiece of life. More than anything, they encourage me to keep exploring, connecting, and growing, for today's memories are the building blocks of the future, creating a richer tapestry of experiences that will continue to shape my life for years to come.

Written by GEO Peer Ambassador, JJ Smith

JJ Smith on balcony overlooking the sea in Rome

Summer 2023

They say what you put into the experience is what you will get out of it, but you gave me more than I could have ever imagined. Los Cerezos is a beautiful campo filled with love, laughter, dance, and support. It is a place that has taught me so much about myself that I do not know how to ever thank you enough. Before this trip, I felt lost. I did not know who I was, who I wanted to be, or what my contribution to the world was supposed to be. Los Cerezos showed me who I am.

The people of Los Cerezos showed me what it truly means to be where your feet are. The society we live in today has constantly told us to plan ahead and ask yourself “what’s next?” and to think “what do I want to do with my life, education, and talents in five years?” but we forget that the moment we are currently in plays a role in those questions. We recognize where we are in life, but we let our mind enter a time machine and focus on where we want to go. Los Cerezos kept my mind in the present. They showed me how important it is to laugh, hug, and spend quality time with the people around you as those people will do whatever they can to help you reach your goals.

The people of Los Cerezos taught me to live on Dominican time and focus on the people in our lives. We tend to hyper fixate on deadlines instead of the people around us. For example, if someone is running late to a meeting, that said individual will avoid anyone or any distractions to get to that meeting on time. Even if it means ignoring their neighbor who needs help fixing a flat tire. Los Cerezos taught me that the quality of relationships are often taken for granted once we focus on ourselves instead of extending that helping hand. The meaning of Dominican time has evolved into a lifestyle as people come first- it is our duty as friends, family members, and children of God to focus on the beings around us instead of turning a blind eye in order to check off a box on our to-do list. Everyone fights a battle we do not see, and by going out of your way to play dominos with community members or accept that cup of coffee from the neighbors you brighten their day and create a friendship that will continue to grow stronger.

The people of Los Cerezos proved to me that my presence is enough to change someone’s life. As I entered the community, I was scared that I would not be able to embed myself in Los Cerezos’ culture and help support community members to the extent I hoped for because my Spanish skills are conversational but not fluent. However, I quickly learned that language is not the only form of communication nor is it the only way to connect with community members. By being present you are showing a level of interest and appreciation that words cannot always express. Actions speak louder than words, and Los Cerezos has shown me that language is no barrier to human connection- it is only a tool, but there are many tools in a toolbox that can help you reach the same goal. Dancing, praying, playing cards, helping prepare meals, playing baseball, and sitting in each other’s presence have proven to be just as effective, if not more, in creating a relationship with the community of Los Cerezos than language alone.

The three weeks I spent in the Dominican Republic has impacted me more than the twenty-one years I have spent on this planet. It has opened my eyes to the importance of caring for others and redefined my definition of what it means to care for the whole person. The relationships I have formed in this community are ones that will last a lifetime and continue to push me to be the best version of myself. Words cannot express the amount of gratitude I have for this opportunity nor the amount of space these people hold in my heart. I will forever be reminded of the helping hands of Los Cerezos and the importance of serving and caring for our community members. Not only will I constantly reflect about this trip, but it revealed my purpose to serve my community and continue to work towards joining this program as a healthcare professional. This is not a goodbye, but a see you soon.

- Creighton student, Abbi

Much of my time in Colombia this past summer was spent talking, listening, and sitting at the dinner table, even hours after the plates have been cleared.

I often found myself in conversations that depicted events of the past in great detail. Having my “host parents”, Manuela and Narciso, share stories of how they arrived in Sincelejo and to the farm. How their family works hard, around the clock, to own what they have. I would hear stories of perseverance, love, fear, pain, loss, and triumph. Often times, there were smaller less profound conversations about pets and why I could eat white rice for the rest of my life. I would even receive relationship advice, warranted or not.

Many of these conversations, however, also centered around the goal of “constructing peace” and what are the possible steps to do that in current times. Although I would stumble over a word or translate it wrong in my head and be lost for the next couple minutes, I often understood the main claims and ideas that were being tossed around.

Anyone that has traveled to Latin America before knows how long these dinner table conversations can last. They go on for hours, playing a sort of “ping pong game” with words and ideas. It’s a general rule of thumb that everyone will stay forever at the table. However, something special about Colombia is how everyone will greet others when they enter into a room. Every single person, will shake every single hand, ask how you are and give you a kiss on the cheek. If your late, their late, and there are 25 other people in the room, everyone will be acknowledged.

This concept seemed to puzzle me and the other volunteers. Normally, if you’re late, you don’t acknowledge anyone, you find a spot in the corner and make yourself invisible. However, here, the complete opposite. You make your presence known; you make yourself known.

I was reminded of making your presence known. At every staff meeting and every small visit to the farm, everyone was known. Maybe not their name, or their entire backstory, or even the reason why they are there. But their voice. The bare minimum, just enough to be heard.

That being said, it’s here that remains the same metaphor for being heard. That there is a seat at the table. There is a space for you to sit and there is acknowledgement that you are there. It doesn’t mean that you will say something, and it doesn’t mean that you will be asked a question. It really just means that you are there. And that everyone has a seat at the table.

- Meredith O.

table with Colombian food

Spring 2023

Are you interested in exploring the extensive programs that ISEP offers? We interviewed Abby, a junior Studio Art and French major, who went to southern France in Fall 2022 to give her experiences working with ISEP.

Abby had taken French since middle school and going into college she knew she wanted to either pursue a French major or minor especially, so she’d be able to study abroad. Having that background in French then gave her useful tools for when she studied in France.

“I would say like having my background I was definitely well prepared, and I felt like I could survive. I think the main thing that I noticed a big improvement on was actually like hearing the language and being surrounded by it all the time. And being like forced to rely on that. And yeah, I guess just the kind of input and then thinking on the spot and being able to respond.”

Before her semester abroad, Abby looked at the Jays Abroad Portal at the different programs offered through Creighton. She decided on an ISEP program because she knew she wanted a program focused on language learning and immersion in France.

I was in Aix-en-Provence, France, in the south of France. I had been to Paris and northern France in high school, so I wanted to explore the south. It was really beautiful, and it was like half an hour from the Mediterranean coast, so we went to the beach a few times and that was really nice. And I just loved the weather; it was pretty good to be over there.

Also, since I’m an art major, I knew there had been a lot of artists in the south of France, and that was kind of a good area for that, so that was another reason I was kind of drawn to that area. And it was cool to just live there and see some of that influence.

As Abby is an art major, I was interested to see if she was able to take any art courses abroad. I also was curious about whether her art had taken any inspiration from living in France.

“I did one art history seminar which was really cool because it was all focused on French artists. And I, of course, you know visited a ton of French museums and that kind of thing. I didn’t make a ton of art while I was over there. I was just super busy doing other stuff, but I think it has influenced the kind of art I make now. It’s been a good inspiration.”

Whether you are an art major, you’re interested in fashion, you want to really immerse in a language, etc., ISEP offers so many unique programs that can be a great option for students. When I asked her what she’d tell students considering an ISEP program, this is what she had to say:

“I think it was good for me, it definitely put me even more outside of my comfort zone because I was the only person from Creighton. There were a few other American students from the Midwest…we kind of became a group. But that definitely put me more outside of my comfort zone and in a good way. It helped me grow even more. Like I guess that’s just something to consider if you’re considering. I think it’s good to just explore all of your options. This was a good program for me because I wanted to do something focused on language, and all of my classes were in French. But don’t count out the ISEP programs.”

We finally touched on Abby’s biggest takeaways from her study abroad experience.

“I guess my biggest like takeaway, was I did a ton of solo weekend trips. That was like my biggest takeaway and I think the best thing that I did. The first few weeks that I was there I kind of stayed in the area and explored the region and got to know like local people and then did a few trips with friends. And then I knew that I wanted to like take advantage of where I was and do a bunch of travel and other people didn’t necessarily want to do that, so I was like I’ll just to it by myself. And it was actually really really good for me. I think everyone should do that.”

- Written by Peer Ambassador: Angelea

Are you interested in experiencing life at the University of Sydney, a large university with courses for almost all majors in a coastal city known for its vibrant way of life and idyllic destination? We talked with junior psychology student, Agoum, to understand more about her time there.

Part of the reason Agoum wanted to study abroad in Australia was because she had family near Sydney who were able to provide a good support system. She spoke highly of them and talked about what it was like to have them on her semester abroad.

It was so convenient. I had only been to Australia once prior to study abroad, but it was when I went with my mom, and we just stayed at her aunt’s house the entire time. We didn’t really get to explore, so to be on your own…[and] have your cousins there that know the city, it was great. It was just really, really convenient and they know Sydney, so they were able to help me out, such as how the train station works, what station you have to get off at, etc.

When she wasn’t traveling with her family, she was attending courses at the University of Sydney.

They have a tutorial for every class you take. I took four classes. I only had exams in three of my classes. I took a class, I think it was French 5, it was my favorite class, but it was also the hardest class I have ever taken in my life. I didn’t take a language placement exam. They just looked at my transcripts and just said “oh, well we think you’d be good for French 5”, and the entire class was in French…It was hard, but it was probably my favorite class. The professor was very understanding, she’s from France too, so that’s also what made it easier.

And while you, the reader, may not personally have family in Australia there are a number of ways to meet people starting with your roommates. The University of Sydney has the option for both same gender and mixed gender housing options. While Agoum was more comfortable with a same gender apartment, this is a very normalized practice that is popular for many students attending the university. Additionally, beyond her FIVE roommates that she was able to meet, she said that one of the best ways she met other people was through a Nature Club she joined!

There was like this nature club, it wasn’t called a nature club, I cannot remember the specific name, but every week they would take students who were in the club to like different nature spots around Sydney, and if you were a student who could join at a discounted price…So that’s where I met a lot of people was through there. I think there would be like 10-15 people per trip, and you could just sign up. Most of the time you would see the same people.”

With the Australian grading system, she was given a lot of time to explore Sydney. And while she did say the transportation was clean and efficient, she took the time to walk and take everything in around her to meet locals.

“…they are very, very friendly like here in the Midwest you say “yeah people in the Midwest are friendly “but Australians are like extremely friendly. And I would also say my days were really simple I only had two classes a day and then I would go to the Australian Starbucks like all the way in downtown Sydney and just sit there for hours. It was also good because I got a lot of walking in.” People say it is a driving city, but I really don’t think it is. You can only drive so far in Sydney, and once you reach downtown, you’re stuck like you have to walk. So most people just walk or they take the train because the train is so convenient, but not a lot of people drive.

But yeah, the walking was really good for me to be able to be outside, that was one thing I loved…I went to get my ear piercing and there was a park I had to walk through to get to the piercing shop. I think it was called Hyde park, and ever since that first day…I went to that park almost every week. It was so nice, there was no playground so there were no kids, it was just a really nice park.

But fair warning, bring an umbrella when walking because as Agoum said:

“…it rains and when it rains it pours”.

We concluded the interview by discussing a few tips for life over there. As an island, this will be a more expensive place to live, so budget and budget well before heading over. Consider when you want to go as well because the seasons are flipped from the United States (i.e., our summer is their winter). But once you’re there?

“I would say like the time flies by so quickly I would really like take advantage of all the free time you have because there you only take maybe two classes a day and then like an hour or two hours depending on what class you’re taking so you have the rest of the day to do whatever. I would really take advantage of it especially because everything in Australia closes at 6pm. They really enjoy that work life balance, so get in there while you can because at 6 o’clock you won’t be able to do anything after that…”

As an American, I just thought I could go to Walmart at 10:30pm but everything closes at 5, 6 so manage your time well. But definitely explore. Sydney is so big and there are so many things to see there. Like now that I’m back I wish I would’ve seen this and seen that…and the Opera house is not that big. They make it look so big in pictures, but it’s beautiful inside like the shows were nice. I saw the Phantom of the Opera right before they ended it, very very nice.


Are you a CCAS student interested in Spanish? A semester in the Galápagos may be the place for you!

Imagine: you’re a College of Arts and Sciences student scrolling the Jays Abroad Portal. You may be wondering where you’d like to go that would fulfill your degree requirements. Then, you stumble across the semester-long Creighton in the Galápagos program. What would that program look like though…we interviewed with student, Julian Garcia to find out.

Julian is a junior at Creighton studying Biology on the Pre-Med track with minors in both Environmental Sciences and Music. Julian knew he wanted to go to the Galápagos since high school due to an influential teacher of his that ran a two-week program there. However, Julian was unable to go due to COVID-19. At the time Julian started college, he viewed going to the Galápagos as a separate experience from studying abroad until a few of his friends considered going abroad. He then decided to go to the Jays Abroad Portal and found the semester in the Galápagos program…after that the rest is history.

We began by talking about how the program’s courses and course structure compared to a traditional semester at Creighton.

“A lot of my classes were focused on Biology – there are different academic tracks, but mine was focused on Ecology, Evolution and Conservation. The courses I took showed how Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation are linked and how everything in the environment affects each other. A lot of my coursework was hands on in the field, observing and making sense of ecological mechanisms. My classes were in modules, and every three weeks was its own class. It was a lot more field work than I’ve ever experienced, but also a good mix of lecture and coursework.”

For students looking for a different track. There are three other program focuses:

  1. Marine Ecology
  2. People, Politics, and the Environment
  3. Sustainable Tourism Track

These are all available on the Jays Abroad Portal under the Creighton in the Galapagos page! In this program, you will study a semester through the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ)!

Can you tell me how these courses fit into your four-year plan?

“These courses aren’t Pre-Med requirements, but they are still science, so they will be recognized by most all med schools. I did take a few summer and winter classes so I was able to do a full semester of biology while abroad. Because I took physics over the summer, I was able to go abroad junior year first semester – I recommend doing that if possible. When I was making my four-year plan as a sophomore, there were many biology classes I wanted to take. This program gave me my ecological biology fix, as well as completing many of my major requirements, and I am more than happy that I had that experience. Now I can get back to focusing on Pre-Med.”

While on this program students live in both Ecuador and the Galapagos. You also live with a host family to help integrate into the culture and better learn the Spanish language. Julian gave insight into his experiences with living with a host family.

“I had two host families – one in Ecuador and the other in the Galapagos. I was on mainland Ecuador for 7 weeks. There, my host mom spoke no English, so I had to learn Spanish to communicate with her. At first, I used a lot of Google translate, but I quickly picked it up. It was seeing a different way of life – going to the grocery store, seeing the family dynamic. I’m Hispanic so I grew up with a bit of experience with that dynamic, but it was still interesting to have those experiences with a different family, especially in a foreign language and country.

In the Galapagos I had a different host family. They had a three-year-old child and lived with more family members which was cool. They offered me lunch even though they weren’t required to, and my host dad spoke quite a bit of English. My host dad would practice his English and then I would respond in Spanish. It was such a great way to work on improving both our language skills!”

For Julian, this experience changed him in a few ways:

“It allowed me to walk downtown and notice more bird species than I ever would’ve before, and I could take note of different plant species that I see. I felt moved from the experience because it was so meaningful, and I want to see if I can combine what I learned with my Pre-Med track. I am noticing that ecology is a system which is similar to how the human body is a system, as well as society. It serves as an analogy and allows me to connect things in a way I wasn’t able to before. Another thing we looked at is how people impact the environment, hence it was another way to stay conscious as to how individuals make an impact in different ways.”

I asked for any advice he would give to students considering the program:

“Really soak in the moment. It goes by fast…really appreciate the moment, especially with how the classes are structured. You only have three weeks in each class. For example, the first theory class was to observe, so we went to see the main tropical environments and ecosystems. We went to the Amazon Basin for a week (take advantage of the time there). There was an early morning hike and at the time I was really tired and wanted the extra sleep, so I didn’t go but looking back, I wish I would’ve done it.”

Any closing thoughts?

“I really liked all the hikes and the different ecosystems, and I especially liked getting to know the people in my program. You see them every day for four months. We were a tight group and its awesome knowing people from all over the country and the world. Honestly, I consider the people the best. I learned so much from the people there.” 

Written by GEO Peer Ambassador: Angelea Baumberger

julian garcia

Are you a student with a desire to experience life in a city and explore the South Korean culture? Then, the Creighton in South Korea program may be a great fit for you!

Sogang University is a Jesuit institution partnered with Creighton that is located in the beautiful city of Seoul, South Korea. It offers a unique experience for students interested in learning about a new culture, trying delicious food, and utilizing some of the best public transportation in the world; all while furthering your education at Sogang University. To highlight her experiences in Seoul and give advice to students considering a semester in South Korea, Creighton student Natasha agreed to share all about her semester abroad! Natasha is a sophomore at Creighton, studying biochemistry, on the pre-dental track. She went abroad during the Fall of 2022. A majority of the courses Natasha enrolled in were Magis CORE, and elective credit.

We began our conversation by talking about how she initially became interested in South Korea.

“I think I’ve known I’ve wanted to go to South Korea for a while. It was a combination of a couple factors. One, I had a lot of Korean friends in high school who got me pretty interested in what it’s like in South Korea and they weren’t afraid to share everything about it. [Two] I got really invested in K-Pop…I [also] knew I wanted to go to Asia because my dad is from Thailand. I knew Creighton didn’t have a program to Thailand, and I knew the most about South Korea, so I wanted to go there.”

Attending a Jesuit institution abroad provided a similar experience to that of Creighton’s. She mentioned one great experience she had was with one of her teachers who was a Jesuit Priest.

“He taught a Methods and Religious studies seminar that I took, and I would honestly say that’s the most interesting class I’ve taken outside my major…like my entire time in college because he was really open about it…[and] it wasn’t theology based at all, so it was really nice to take a religious class that focused on looking about what religion is and not just “Here’s our religion. Learn it”.

Detailing the course structure, Natasha mentioned she only had class three days a week. The course structure was primarily based on a midterm and a final exam, which allowed her time to explore the city as she spend less time on weekly homework. She said that one of her favorite parts of living in this fast-paced city was the transportation. She mentioned that unlike Omaha, you don’t need a car to get around the city, which allowed her to easily travel to different places.

“I took a five-day, day trip to Busan which is the southeastern beach area of South Korea. I also took a day trip to Nami Island in the fall which has these really pretty leaves…it was just really nice to enjoy nature after being in the city for a while and that was [only] an hour or two away. Yeah, so kudos to them for having good transportation!”

Upon arriving in Seoul there was a learning curve for her that she felt was important to mention.

“A lot of people know a decent bit of English, but Korean is still a very different language, and everybody uses it. Most people don’t talk it [English]. I knew some people who came there knowing Korean, but it took a little time just getting used to Korean as their main form of communication. And for me I only knew the alphabet just a little, so I could read it but not understand it very well. I did take a Korean language class while I was there, and that improved my skills a lot! It really helped me in getting comfortable because by the end of the semester I was able to order food in Korean…even hold a basic conversation!

You are going to a foreign country, and you can’t expect them to speak English for you, so it would be nicer if you at least tried to speak their language. I know anytime I tried to speak Korean, the locals appreciated that you’re taking the time to learn.”

Living in Seoul and being a major K-Pop fan, Natasha got to go to K-Pop concerts which had a cutthroat registration process.

I went to three K-Pop concerts while I was there. Let me tell you, the tickets for some of those big groups are “life or death” you know. They sell out in two minutes! I went to a PC café because they have the really good setups and you just sit there, have the time on the screen, and you have to wait. You have your credit card information ready and it’s really fast, so I luckily got a back row ticket for an Ateez concert. It was a little stressful, but the concert was so worth it.

I concluded the interview by asking Natasha if she had any advice for students wanting to participate in this experience. Her tips were centered around preparation before you arrive to Seoul and included listing the places you want to go, establishing a good budget, and trying to learn Korean beforehand, if possible. She also said that once students arrive in South Korea, they should try to explore as much as possible and be open to new things.

“Don’t be afraid to go out and do stuff. I’m kind of shy sometimes and it’s kind of scary to go out, meet people, and try new things. At least for the international students, we all in the same boat and we are all there to go to different places and meet new people, so you might as well go with random people and make new friends. We had a giant group chat of all the international students and sometimes somebody would be like “Does anybody want to go do “xyz” with me?”. Saying “YEAH” was a really big step for me, but it paid off and I made really good friends while I was there.

Saying yes and going outside her comfort zone allowed her to meet people from all over the world and experience the fun exciting night life that South Korea has to offer, such as Karaoke! Her openness also gave her the opportunity to try the local food…which YUM!

“[The] food was amazing…and a lot of it’s mostly locally run. I know while I was there, I made a promise to myself to try all the Korean food even though I’m notorious for being a “little picky”. I tried it all and it was so good.”

Natasha also listened to many blogs before she left to help her learn more about transportation and places she may want to visit. To help you out, we included a few of them that she feels assisted with her transition.

Written by GEO Peer Ambassador: Angelea Baumberger

Natasha South Korea

Fall 2022

Here is an excerpt from my interview with Chantal Portes. 

Can you introduce yourself? Tell us where you’re from and what you’re studying. 

My name is Chantal Portes and I’m from the Dominican Republic. I'm a senior majoring in Environmental Science.

What inspired you to study abroad?

Well, I just wanted to experience other cultures because I know sustainability is different in every country. At first I looked at Sweden, but because of COVID-19, I ended up going to Scotland. I really wanted to immerse myself in another culture and understand their perspective on sustainability. 

Why did you decide to study abroad when you're already studying abroad as an international student?

That's a good question. I always wanted to travel and I love meeting new people. I love getting to know new places. 

So a lot of international students don't think that they can study abroad because they're already abroad. What was the process like for you getting ready to study abroad? 

Oh, it was very easy. The advisors in the GEO are really helpful as well as the peer advisors. They help you through the whole process and it was really easy. I didn't have to do a lot of work other than the visa application, which was a little bit stressful. I let Lucy Hancock, the International Student Services Coordinator, know that I was going abroad, but the Study Abroad Advisor helped me with everything. 

How did you decide to go to Scotland? 

Like I said, I was going to Sweden but then it got canceled. But my advisor Kelly told me there was another really cool sustainability program at the Dumfries campus of the University of Glasgow, Scotland which is another city, an hour from Glasgow.

Were you worried or nervous about anything before going abroad?  

I was not! I was ready. I was so ready. Well, at first when I was on my way to Dumfries for the first time, my flight was to Glasgow and then I needed to take a taxi from the airport then a bus to Dumfries and then another taxi to the residence halls and I was nervous. I didn't have a phone number. I didn't have Wi-Fi. So I was really nervous. But when I got to the airport, everyone was so helpful. I just asked people like, hey can I make a call? Can I call a taxi or something? And they were really helpful. Scottish people are the most friendly people I've ever met in my life. They are amazing! 

Can you tell me a favorite story or highlight from the semester? 

Oh my god. Okay, I have so many! So okay, I'll never forget this. The first night I got to the resident hall. I met all my flatmates and then I went to my room and I was like oh my gosh, I'm by myself, like that's when everything hit me like, I'm in another country by myself. I don't have any friends, I don't know anyone, this is really scary and I don't know what to do. And I was like, okay just go to class tomorrow and try to walk around and breathe and relax. And then that same day, two people from the residence hall knocked on my door and they were like, hey, do you want to go out with us? The whole residence hall is going to play pool and we wanted to invite you. They just knocked on my door, they didn't even know me and they were like yeah come with us. And so I went with like 20 people to go play pool, and that's how I met everyone. After that, I just clicked with the whole group and that’s how I made my friends. It was like right away. It took me one day. 

Was there anything that you struggled with during your time abroad?

Just not understanding the Scottish accent sometimes. Especially professors or local people. For example, I used to take taxis to different places around the area and I couldn't understand what they were saying. I felt so bad because I was like I want to talk to you but I don't know what you are saying.

Could they understand you? 

Yes. And also what was really funny is that they referred to me as the American. And I was like I'm not American! I'm from the Dominican Republic and I'm studying abroad in the United States! And they’d just go, she's from Nebraska! Yeah, they didn't think of me as Dominican because I had the American accent and vocabulary. For many people, I was the first person they had met and talked to who had an American accent and vocabulary- even though I do technically have a Dominican accent.

What advice would you give to any other international students or people who share like the same identities as you who are looking to study abroad? 

Don't worry about the whole process or the application because the GEO will help you through everything. Also, just do it. Studying abroad is such an amazing experience. And even if you're already studying abroad, going somewhere else can help you grow even more and open your mind to experience new cultures. That's the best. At first, when I was going to Scotland. I was like, I'm gonna miss out on everything at Creighton, like all the games and all my friends and at first I was so worried about it - but I don't regret going to Scotland. It was the best thing I've ever done. 

Chantal Portes - Scotland


On August 28, 2019, I set out on the journey of a lifetime — a year abroad in Bologna, Italy.

I didn’t know what exactly was going to happen the moment I stepped out of that plane, but what I did know was that I chose a program that incorporated both my love for social justice and the opportunity to immerse myself in a new culture more than ever before.

The streets of Bologna, marked with elaborate graffiti and the tip tapping of every street walker, are few of the wonderful aspects that draw one’s heart to the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region. Its portico-lined streets and red-tinted architecture create an atmosphere for students that make you feel at home. Creighton in Italy - Bologna, Fall 2019 alumna Stella Michalowski recalls:

"Compared to other places in Italy, like Rome and Florence, Bologna was a hidden gem. There were little to no tourists which made the town seem so wholesome and real. Bologna is Italy’s best kept secret! The town has so much hidden history to it. It was such an authentic, life changing experience overall."

Everyday, students who study at the Spring Hill College Italy Center get to experience the beauty of Bologna as they walk to campus, grabbing a cappuccino and crostini or croissant along the way. The Italian professors guiding each class recount their own lived experiences and perspectives, allowing for immersive and well-rounded courses that truly open your eyes and mind to the ever changing world around us. Outside of classes, the city of Bologna offers so many opportunities to attend live concerts, film streaming events, art museums, markets, and local shop pop-ups. Even more so, Bologna is the best place to get lost.

In the Spring 2020 semester, Creighton in Italy - Bologna alumna Emma Slattery remembers:

"My favorite part about studying in Bologna was being able to wander the city with my free time and immerse myself in the culture…"

Emma Slattery