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Study Abroad Tour: South Africa

Next we went to Krueger park. Here we were able to learn about different species that inhabit South Africa. We were also able to see how they live and interact in the wild. It was interesting to not only learn about well known species, such as the elephant, rhino, and lion, but it was also interesting to see and learn about the lesser known species, such as the civet, and genet. We also learned about problems they face, such as poaching and loss of habitat, and what kind of conservation efforts are being made to help correct these problems.

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A Remarkable Journey throughout New Zealand! – Joshua Plunk

This Summer I took one of the most intimidating yet comforting steps in my entire life. This step led me halfway around the world to the extraordinary country of New Zealand. Thanks to the people at Massey University I got to explore an entire new world, which is exactly what New Zealand is, an entire world within a single country. I had the chance to explore caves and rainforests, I was able to see frozen mountains as well as glorious lush green pastures. It has been the experience of a lifetime and I can’t wait to tell you about it!

A photo of Mt. Nicholas Sheep Station

A photo of Mt. Nicholas Sheep Station

Above is a picture I took from Mt. Nicholas Sheep Station near Queenstown, NZ. As you can see I wasn’t exaggerating with the beauty of this country. This was our first stop on the trip and really set the mood for the entire expedition and we thought if this is a preview of what is to come this trip will be money well spent.

Jack our host at Mt Nicholas Sheep Station

Jack our host at Mt Nicholas Sheep Station

During our time at Mt. Nicholas Sheep Station we ran into an old Illinois alumni. Jack is the owner of Mt. Nicholas Sheep Station, he was born and raised in New Zealand but took a break from the sheep business some years ago to pursue a masters degree from the University of Illinois. So naturally the current Illinois students had to take a picture with him!

We even got see where Bilbo Baggins lives!

We even got see where Bilbo Baggins lives!

After our visit at Mt. Nicholas Sheep Station we really began our adventure. Traveling every day to new and exciting places. Not only were the landscapes and scenery fascinating but the people as well. New Zealand natives, or kiwis, are some of the nicest most welcoming people I’ve ever met. I also had the opportunity of meeting many people in agricultural fields. Throughout the expedition we visited the sheep station, met with members of the Department of Conservation, a wine producer, a dairy farm, and a livestock improvement company. All of the people we talked to were abundant with knowledge in their respective fields and it was a great opportunity to meet with them.

Here is me with some of the Maori natives at the Rotoroua culture center.

Here is me with some of the Maori natives at the Rotoroua culture center.

Unfortunately our time spent traveling the country had to come to an end after the first two weeks were up. It was then that we settled down in a town called Napier which is located in the Hawke’s Bay area, New Zealand’s agricultural powerhouse. The final four weeks of our time in New Zealand would be spent interning at companies where we had been placed based on our experience. I had the opportunity to work at Greenmount Foods a food manufacturer where they specialize in onion processing. I’ve always thought I was too tough to cry when people are cutting up onions, but that’s a completely different story when 1,000 pounds of onions are being diced and peeled every half hour. I cried like a baby the first day! All the tears were worth it though when I was assigned a project to record mass balances in their production line. Overall the amount of onion they had been able to ship out compared to the amount of onion they started with averaged around 70-75% but they would like to be closer to 80%. I had to record weights of what was being peeled off, what was being trashed through the sorter, and what people were vacuuming out to find out where all of this weight was ending up. At the end of my internship we had discovered that most of what was being lost was coming from the peeling room and it would be cost effective to have a worker collect good onion peels for more product. We also discovered that if Greenmount were to recycle what had been vacuumed out and sent it back through the sorter they would be able to ship out nearly $1000 more of product per week! So overall I would say my internship was extremely successful and although the smell of onions may not have been the most pleasant I wouldn’t have wanted any of the other internships.

Here are my bosses on the left Anton and Bruce respectively I still keep in contact with both of them and hope to see them again one day.

Here are my bosses on the left Anton and Bruce respectively I still keep in contact with both of them and hope to see them again one day.

At this time I’d like to thank the ACES department at the University of Illinois as well as the good people at Massey University again, because without all of their help I never would have had one of the best experiences of my life!

And just to prove that first picture is real here’s this.

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Summer in Greece!

Wow, what a trip! There’s so much I could say that details everything I’ve done during this trip but few to adequately describe the memories. I had the opportunity this summer to travel to Thessaloniki, Greece, located in northern Greece. I was chosen to participate in an internship at the American Farm School. The focus of my work was in the Precision Agriculture Lab with another U of I Student, Emme. We aided the faculty with on going projects and had the chance to collaborate on our own. While the days consisted of working in labs, the night time we would visit the lively city center. IMG_4697Thessaloniki is a “new” town, for the Greeks, but rich with history dating back 2,300 years. We took in the culture every way we could with nightlife and sightseeing, but our favorite part was definitely food.

Greek Food!

We all tried new foods and experienced the Greek cuisine to its fullest extent. Splitting checks were another issue though! As Americans visiting Greece, we didn’t expect such a big culture shock, but there was definitely an adjustment period. Language was not too big of an issue, most Greeks wanted to practice their English with us. We all picked up some basic phrases to get us around like, Ευχαριστώ (Efharistó-thank you) and Παρακαλώ (Parakaló-please).I got to practice my German a little at a near by German sandwich shop. The Greek lifestyle is not as fast paced as us Americans. We all tried to slow down a little and enjoy our time with coffee breaks.

Greek Frappé

Greek Frappé 

Every weekend was a new adventure! Athens, Mt. Olympus, the beaches of Halkidiki, a sailing trip and even Rome! I was incredibly lucky to have made such a good group of friends during my stay. We had loads of adventures together and we proudly refer to our study abroad group as a family. I now have very close friends from around the country (Iowa, Washington, and few more at U of I!) We also had the rare opportunity to witness history. During our trip, the Greek economic crisis was burgeoning. We got a unique perspective that showed us how the crisis affected the average Greek citizen. We even talked to Greeks about the ever important vote on the budget plans. It was great to supplement what I was watching in the news.

Traveling has always been a passion of mine, and my amazing trip to Greece reaffirmed my desire to keep seeing the world!

Vandana Ashtakala

Mt. Olympus

Mt. Olympus

Changing of the Guards in Athens

Changing of the Guards in Athens

Sailing!

Sailing!

Beach day in Halkidiki

Beach day in Halkidiki

Dinner

Dinner

Vittorio Emanuele II monument in Rome

Vittorio Emanuele II monument in Rome

Colosseum

Colosseum

Last night out :(

Last night out 😦

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An Unforgettable Month in Vienna, Austria – Kefei Wu

As a part 2/summary of my summer study abroad experience, I would like to discuss more about the program itself.

On May 18th, I arrived at Vienna International Airport, marking the opening of my study abroad program. As a rising sophomore, I was worrying whether I could manage my time well. The program was PS 394: Crisis Diplomacy. It required a lot of reading and background knowledge of European history. Every day after my arrival in Vienna, I needed to read at least 40 pages of a scholarly book called Crisis Diplomacy. During the first week, I was busy adjusting myself in order to enjoy the trip while studying for the course. Traveling around churches, castles, and bridges sometimes made me feel a sense of fear, because there were so many things that I didn’t know. During the first weekend, I went to Italy. The weather was cold, and the bridge of sigh was depressing. Italy’s beauty was cover by a veil because of the rain.

However, things became a little bit different. As I read more of the books and visited more museums, I gradually found myself not so strange in the environment. I could recognize a few sculptures and tell stories about them. I could analyze the reasons why wars happened. When I was in Verona, I saw a statue of Cavour, the brilliant politician who stimulated the unification of Italy. When I was in Schonbrunn Palace, I could feel Franz Josef’s ambition, courage, and concern. Surprisingly, as I managed my time well, studying while touring could be an amazing experience, both broadening my horizon and enforcing what I learned in class.

I can’t say the course was easy, but I can honestly say it is worth taking. Thanks to the professor and TA, I learned so many things that I never expected to learn in a short month. Also, I couldn’t believe I traveled 4 countries in one month. As the program already ended for a month, all the memories still remain in my mind. Good moments never fade away.

Here are some pictures that I found remarkable and memorable.

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Ashley Johnson – Wildtrax Explorations in Tanzania, Africa

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                     Mount Kilimanjaro.

Studying abroad in Tanzania has been one of the best experiences of my life. We attended the Mweka College of African Wildlife and Conservation, the best wildlife and conservation school in Africa. Receiving the certificate at the end of the two week short coarse was such an honor. We learned about Tanzanian wildlife and the history of Tanzania. At the end of our stay in Tanzania, we all had research projects that we started before the trip and added to throughout our stay. My topic was economic development in rural communities. I learned about how many people do not have access to basic needs and how many programs there are to help rural people be off grid and have these basic needs. So, we had to present our topics with a speech and a poster to complete the final portion of the short coarse at Mweka.

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Receiving our certificates on the last day at Mweka College.

During the time in Tanzania we were able to climb part of Mount Kilimanjaro, visit local markets, and get to know the local people. We loved playing volleyball with the other Mweka students after classes let out. The people there are so nice and welcoming that it does not seem like you are half way around the world. The Tanzanian people want to know about your life and your schooling just as much as you want to know about theirs. They are so passionate and proud of their country, and they love to teach you Swahili as well. It has inspired me to learn Swahili and learn more about the African culture. Tanzania is definitely a place I will be visiting in the future.

~Ashley Johnson, NRES

#ILLINOISabroad #ACESabroad #imagineaces

 

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Visiting a Catholic Church near Mweka College with other Mweka students.

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Ich liebe Hamburg!

Erzhi Zhou, Hamburg, the BEST program in Germany

Taking a 5 hours bus from Duisburg to Hamburg, was long. However, when I went into the city, I was attracted by the peaceful street with live music, shinning river with cool wind. At that moment, I know I like here!

Walking through the street, I enjoy every moment. Hamburg likes the Seattle in U.S. It is romantic, peaceful and impressive. in Seattle you may hold a cappuccino in the square, but in Hamburg, you will hold a beer in the market. Fish market is a highlight in the whole trip. My friends and I wake up at 7:00 am. The early morning was lazy and comfortable. When we arrived at Fish Market, people was selling fish and flowers, everything. The flowers with bright color made me feel happy, the delicious snacks like Wurst and Pommes is the best partner of German Beer. When I drinking the beer in the morning listening the German Rock n’ Roll, I know it is one of the best moment of my life.

My original view of Germany was a very conserved one, but after visiting I have realized that they are the most romantic and easy people in the world!

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