Featured Q&A’s

As former study abroad students we speak from our experience and the knowledge that we have gained over years of living, studying, and working abroad. Sometimes our experience isn’t enough to answer all of your questions. The Featured Q&A’s section will put the spotlight on responses to questions provided by distinguished travelers, journalists, professors, and other professionals.

If you find yourself in one of the aforementioned categories and would like to answer some questions that ubies throw your way please write to us at info@ubumm.com.

Featured Q&A of the Week (May 4, 2012)

Your Name(s) and Name of Business: Norman Viss & Carol VanDyken.  Online expat support.

Title: Expat Everyday Support Center


Website: www.expateverydaysupportcenter.com

Twitter: @isointer

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/expateverydaysupportcenter

1) Tell us how the idea to create a website to assist expats developed. What are some of the main features of the website?
Online support for expats is a perfect way to provide efficient, focused and 24/7 support for expats around the world. When we became acquainted with our online support platform, JigsawBox, we realized that this was the tool we needed to provide support for expats. And so the website and business was born. The website features information about what we do and how we do it, as well as the costs involved. The website also features regular blogposts which are written with expats and their lives in mind. We also offer other resources, mainly a series of webinars which we offer free to those who sign up for them.

2) What kinds of webinars do you feature on your website?
We interview experts in different fields relevant to expats, and each webinar is filled with a good combination of solid content and practical application.  It is a rich, growing library of topics and information for expats and global citizens.  Listeners are able to submit questions before the webinar, which we can take into account as we prepare, and also during the webinar.  We offer our webinars free to those who register for them. Most include a slide presentation, and all of them can be accessed online or downloaded as mp3 for later ipod listening.
Here are some of the titles of webinars we have done:

  • Staying Connected with your Partner
  • A Holiday Season to be Proud Of
  • Planning your Passions: A New Approach to Time Management with guest Gert-Jan Roest, Amsterdam
  • Looking Back to Look Forward
  • International Isolation and Google Maps: Setting Good Goals
  • Leave Well to Enter Well: Saying goodbye well. Guest: Tina Quick, International Family Transitions
  • Learning to Laugh. Guest: Stand-up Comedian Gregory Shapiro, Amsterdam
  • Expat Parents and Guilt. Guest: Expat Child Psychologist Kate Berger
  • Bursting the Language Bubble. Guest: ESL teacher Andrea Giordano
  • A Little Bit of Everything: Expats and Nutrition. Guest: Joyce Bergsma, Nutrition Therapist
  • What Homer Taught Us About Nostalgia.  Guest: Ana Mariani, London-based Psychologist and Expat

3) The coaching aspect of your website services is very intriguing! Tell us more about the coaches, their qualifications, and common situations that they deal with.
The ‘WE’ at the Expat Everyday Support Center are:
Norman Viss
Husband, father, grandfather.
Friend, and to some, a burr under the saddle.

Hobbies: Tennis, painting, folk music, travel.

Norman holds B.A. and Master’s degrees, with majors in cross-cultural and urban studies and theology. He has many years of broad international experience working with people from a wide variety of cultures, including a 10 year span of living in Nigeria, West Africa, and 22 years in the Netherlands. Currently he lives in the Philadelphia, USA. In 2009 he completed the Certified Professional Coach Program at the International Coach Academy.

Norman knows what it is like to deal with isolation and find his way into new community:

  • as a young man working in isolated villages in the Nigerian savannah
  • in sophisticated Amsterdam, learning Dutch and building community in a post-modern culture
  • raising children and sending them off to school and life

Carol Van Dyken
29 years married to a wonderful man, mother to four young adults, friend to people in many walks of life.

Hobbies: Cooking, visiting with friends and extended family, reading, travel.

Location: USA – after over two decades of international living in the Caribbean, Asia and Africa.

With a background in Human Resources (B.A. Human Resources and Business), Carol currently works on the development team of an international non-profit organization and has been trained and led seminars on interpersonal relationships through IT Partners.
 Things I like to think about:

  • What it’s been like to live far from the familiar: family, culture, traditions and lifestyle.
  • The implications it has had on my marriage to have lived outside our home culture and transition between cultures, not to mention how it has shaped our children.
  • How I have coped with always being ‘different’ in a culture in looks, lifestyle, humor, interests and how to develop friendships even within those limitations.
  • How to help my children be comfortable with the background they have had growing up and how they now as young adults face the feeling of being strangers in a culture they should call their own.

“Been there, done that” is a well-worn phrase, but it communicates the reason I can relate to expats and walk alongside them as they face many of the same challenges.

4) What are some of your current initiatives to reach out to students? How do you see these projects unfolding in the near future?

We are in contact with the International House Philadelphia, the local branch of a worldwide organization providing housing and support to international students from around the world. We hope to work with the IHP to develop online support for before, during and after the international student experience.

In addition, we have plans to being a website for Kenyan international students to help them share information and support each other during their international experience.
Norman is currently writing a book about the life of a Kenyan man now studying microbiology in the Netherlands and USA.

5) What words of advice would you give a student that is interested in studying abroad? What strategies would you recommend to a student that is dealing with homesickness abroad?

To a student interested in studying abroad, I would say that you should definitely take the opportunity if you can.  There are few things in life more broadening and enriching than living in another culture and interacting with people from all over the world.  You will never regret that you spent time in another place in your youth – it will change you for the rest of your life!
Dealing with homesickness: find other international students to hang out with sometimes. Don’t isolate yourself from the culture in which you are staying, but other internationals will be able to understand your feelings.  Then, find a family into which you are welcomed in your host culture and spend time with them.  This will give you a more settled feeling and a smaller group of people who really care about you and can support you during the times you feel down about being away from your own family.  They can give you a temporary replacement for parents, siblings and extended family, plus a home-style atmosphere to spend time in.

Our webinar on Nostalgia has some very helpful information about homesickness and nostalgia. We also would recommend the ‘Say goodbye well’ webinar with Tina Quick, which offers solid tips and advice for leaving one place for another.

Featured Q&A of the Week (April 20, 2012)

Your Name(s) and Name of Business: Sara Plana (Director of Publishing), Lauren Xie (Director of Marketing), Tian Kisch (Marketing Associate and Staff Writer)

Title(s): see above!

Website: www.letsgo.com



Twitter: @letsgotravel



Facebook: www.facebook.com/letsgo



Let's Go France1) What kinds of services does Let’s Go provide? How might a study abroad student find your website helpful?

For over fifty years, Let’s Go has published the world’s favorite budget travel guides, written entirely by students and updated annually. We write for the young and the young at heart, and we have a keen eye for adventure (and great deals). We send our student researchers out into the world to explore places that are off the beaten path and write about everywhere from New York to Naples, Bangkok to Buenos Aires, Melbourne to Mexico. Back at Let’s Go Headquarters, our student editors take this witty, honest writing and perfect it for publication in our travel guides. Our series of books is as accurate as it is sassy, and a study abroad student would be thrilled to find out that much of our content is also available on our website, www.letsgo.com. Our website also features blogs written by backpackers and travelers from around the world who post about their experiences and adventures from places like Egypt, Malta, and Chile.

2) Let’s Go has been around for over fifty years now. What has been the key to your success with young travelers? How do you see the study abroad industry growing in the next ten years?

We’re students writing for students. We know that young travelers aren’t content with sitting on tour buses, nor are they overly eager to spend a lot of money while traveling. With this in mind, we tailor our travel guides to point our readers toward a genuine travel experience on a budget. In the next ten years, we expect more students to study abroad as the world becomes increasingly interconnected, and we see ourselves playing a major role in ensuring that students get the most out of their cultural experiences abroad.

3) We see that you recently introduced a Let’s Go phone application. Tell us more! Where can one go to download this new application?

Let’s Go currently has mobile apps for Amsterdam, London, New York City, Paris, and Rome, and more coming soon. Our apps help users get the most out of their travels, from pointing out the best restaurants, clubs, and hotels to insider tips and fun facts from our student researchers. You can download them now from the iTunes App Store!

4) How does one become a Let’s Go blogger?

To become a Let’s Go blogger, applicants just need to fill out a short form and submit a brief, creative travel-related writing sample. We’re looking for fun, interesting people who are bursting with travel stories that they need to share with the rest of the world.

5) Tell us more about your series of guidebooks. What sets your guidebooks apart from the others?

Our guidebooks begin with the several sections to orient our readers to where they’ll be traveling: the “Discover” sections give a broad overview of when to go and what to do; the “Essentials” sections go over transportation, safety, and health; and the “101” sections touch on culture and history. Unlike other guidebooks, our travel guides also include a “Beyond Tourism” chapter specifically for students interested in volunteering, studying, or working while abroad. The rest of our travel guides are filled with detailed information on specific locations, ranging from entertainment and nightlife to accommodations and sights. We pride ourselves on our honest travel advice connecting our readers with resources that we’ve discovered first-hand so they can get the most bang for their buck while abroad.

Featured Q&A of the Week (April 14, 2012)

Name of Business: Insiders Abroad

Title: Vice President

Website: www.insidersabroad.com

Twitter: @insidersabroad

Facebook: www.facebook.com/insidersabroad



Brief summary of business: Insiders Abroad is an English Speaking community for Italy, France, and Spain. We connect expats, students, tourists, or people interested in these countries to share experiences, questions, thoughts, and reviews. We also provide a platform for local businesses to connect with potential customers.

1) Insiders Abroad reaches out to the English-speaking community in France, Italy, and Spain. What made you select these three countries as opposed to other or additional countries?

We started with Italy a few years ago and had some great experiences with both the community and the local businesses. Our plan is to grow to more countries. Just a few months ago we launched France and Spain due to the high number of expats, students, and tourists in those countries. Also, the close proximity of the countries led to a lot of crossover (traveling between countries, students taking weekend trips, expats vacationing, etc).

2) Do you have plans to expand in the future?

Yes, we have expansion strategies in the works.
3) What aspect of your website do you believe your followers find most useful?

Interesting question as we’ve had a lot of feedback and we follow our analytics very closely. The classifieds have had great traction, and the forums have been successful. We did have one company ask us to take down their forum postings because they couldn’t keep up with business requests. I think it really depends on the time of year as to what is most ‘useful’. How so? The job and housing sections of the site are the most consistent year round, but depending on the time of year we see spikes in different areas of the site. For instance, during high tourist seasons, we see certain aspects of the site spike (hotels, forums) and when new students arrive each semester we see other parts of the site spike. We’d like to think we deliver something for our entire audience year round.

4) How does one go about adding a Classified Ad to your website?

The classifieds, blogs, forums, and business listings (free section) are all free by creating an account here: http://www.insidersabroad.com/signup  We built the site under the idea that it’s for the users and the businesses. We stay out of the way and let them dictate the content and what’s important to them.
5) Tell us more about your forums. We noticed that you have a pretty active student forum. What kinds of topics do students discuss on the “Student Board?”

Each forum section changes day to day and from month to month. The student section usually has a lot to do with things like cheap places to eat, how to get around town, nightlife, and dealing with being a student overseas. We also have intern programs through some universities in Italy and have had some great success of getting students involved with Insiders Abroad and getting credit for the work. Gives them a chance to experience working with a company and spreading the word of their experiences of being overseas.

6) Does your website offer any types of special offers for businesses located in France, Italy, or Spain?

We have a full business directory for all the local businesses in those countries. We also have various programs for these businesses to promote themselves within the platform. Some of the programs are free, some are done through contracts. We have advertising solutions, premium directory and accommodations placements, expanded listings including videos, as well as a coupon section. The businesses also have the chance to promote themselves and/or communicate directly with our community through the blogs, classifieds, and the forums.

Featured Q&A of the Week (April 6, 2012)

Your Name(s) and Name of Business: Feily

Title: Founder

Website: http://www.discover-chartres.com

Twitter: @MyChartres

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/discoverchartres

Brief summary of business: Discover Chartres is about my journey of discovering and exploring the medieval city.

1)  We feel that part of a successful study abroad experience involves getting off the “beaten path” in order to learn more about the culture in which the student is living. Tell us about some of your favorite parts of Chartres, one of France’s oldest cities.

Chartres is one of France’s medieval cities.  So, as we can imagine, most parts of the city have their own history. And what I love from Chartres is that its heritage sites are well preserved and developed not only for tourist destinations, but also for others such as students and researchers to learn about the history and culture in the medieval era.
My favorite part of Chartres is the old city that covers the surrounding area of Cathedral, the higher land city (la ville haut) and the lower land city (la basse ville) situated along the river Eure.

Walking along the old city of Chartres is my favorite thing to do throughout the year, oh except when it’s raining!  I hate walking under the rain.

2) Do you have any hotel or bed and breakfast suggestions for a student that is interested in visiting Chartres?

I think staying in a bed and breakfast could be a good choice because they are cozy and affordable.  If you plan to stay longer in Chartres, you might want to consider staying in a hotel apartment or a studio.

Hmm, should I mention my favorite bed and breakfast name here? Oh, I guess a link works better: http://www.discover-chartres.com/cheap-chartres-accommodation.html

3) Are there any special events that occur in Chartres throughout the year?

Of course the Chartres Light Show, what else! Usually from April to September.
The best moment is in June when two other annual festivals also occur in this month – the music festival and water festival.

4) What is your favorite place to eat in Chartres?

My favorite place to eat is in the parks! Yes, I like to do picnics with family and friends. Can you imagine how nice it is to hear the birds tweeting while eating your lunch under the tree, with the view of labyrinth garden just behind the cathedral? It’s a magic moment!

If you are searching for a traditional French food restaurant, I would recommend Les Feuillantines, a small restaurant with rich savour.  Remember to take Moelleux au chocolat for dessert! It was the best dessert I have ever had.

5) What inspired you to create a website about Chartres, France?

I had lived in a city with more than 3 million people while Chartres has a population of only 40,000 populations! I felt like living in a remote place, far away from friends and family so that nobody would ever find me. Until one day my eyes opened when I saw some tourist buses parked and suddenly I thought “Hey so the world comes here? But for what?” It was my first discovery then that Chartres Cathedral is one of the UNESCO Heritage Sites. How could I never have known about it before!

I did some research about this city and discovered that it has so much to share, and the best part is that the city gives me great opportunities to fulfill my hobby – taking photos. So I decided to share my discoveries on a website. Discover-Chartres.com is a relatively a new website. I officially became a Chartraine (a name given to Chartres residents) since the end of 2009. So you can see that there are still many things to do and to discover in order to provide more information about Chartres to my readers.

6) Do you have any advice for study abroad students that are interested in travel journalism?

Wow… this is hard to answer! I never consider myself as a travel journalist.
But here are some tips from my experience on writing this website:

  • Do some basic research before you decide to write about a place so that you will have a preference about important spots in the area and the best angle to take pictures (if photography is your intention). Your visit will be more efficient visit this way.
  • Always have your camera and/or video camera with you and include the back-up batteries and memory cards. Don’t ever miss great occasions just because you were short on battery! Believe me, this has happened to me several time!
  • Keep your eyes open to notice unusual or special things that might be useful for your readers. For this, you have to know what your readers’ interests are.
  • Take some little notes as soon as you can, otherwise you will forget the “wow” moment of your experience. Write with your voice — imagine that you are telling stories to your family and friends.  Let your readers know that you have really experienced your visit.
  • Get close to locals and gather information from them. Most people are so proud of their city and would be so happy to talk about it to tourists.

Featured Q&A of the Week (March 31, 2012)

Your Name(s) and Name of Business:   Heddi Cundle of myTab.co



Title: Big Cheese

Website:  www.mytab.co



Twitter:  @mytab

Facebook:  /myTab



Brief summary of business: myTab’s travel gift card is a faster & easier way to fund your travel dreams. Save cash for trips & shout “Put it on myTab” so friends & family can contribute towards your travel fund.

1) My Tab is such an interesting travel concept. Tell us more about how the idea came about.

I created myTab because I, along with everyone else, was frustrated with spending weeks trying to find the best travel deal and then after booking, never knowing if I truly got the best bang for my buck. Yet with myTab, since you’re now cash rich with travel funds, searching travel and booking this is so much of a happier and stress free experience. It’s like having Monopoly money to play with and use for that dream trip you put off so many times, like we’ve all done! It’s also a lovely way for friends & family to gift you towards something truly memorable, knowing it’ll be put to great use for travels instead of something that (heaven forbid) is re-gifted.
2) Can you provide a brief synopsis of how the travel planning aspect of My Tab works?

It’s really simple. You can save travel cash and friends/family can also gift towards your trip. The payments run securely through PayPal (user or credit card guest) and the cash is added to your fund instantly. If you’re Facebook friends, you can also post a congratulations message on your friend’s wall through myTab once you’ve gifted them. For booking your trip, just simply search travel on myTab. We’re powered by Expedia so you know our rates are fantastic. Then simply choose your flight or flight+hotel and when you book, your myTab funds instantly deduct from your account towards the trip. If you’re short of cash at the time of booking, just top up the difference with PayPal and then book. When you’re booked, you can post a message on Facebook thanking everyone who contributed in making your dream trip possible.  So now everyone can see the results from start to finish, instead of it being a painful isolated task. How cool!
3) How does one begin the My Tab experience?

All you do is sign up to myTab with a username/password, or better yet, with your Facebook account. Then create your trip and update your Account settings so even non Facebook friends can gift you by typing your vanity username in the url bar i.e. myTab.co/HeddiCundle. You don’t even need to sign into myTab to gift someone by vanity username, it’s that easy. Then you can set reminders about your trip (or top up funds regularly) and you’re on your way to planning, funding & booking that trip. You can also share reminders with Facebook friends so you’re sharing the tasks. No more stressed team leader organizing the trip.
4) How do you think a study abroad student might find your service useful? What are some benefits to using My Tab as opposed to other travel services?

We’re seeing a LOT of students use myTab to fund their study abroad trip. Most study abroad fees do not include travel and this causes panic on budgeting since airfare can cost a few hundred dollars. With myTab, students can save travel cash, have family/friends contribute towards their once-in-a-lifetime study abroad travel and this greatly helps them budget. We’ve seen students also use multi credit cards at the time of booking when they’re a bit short of funds. For eg, Sarah has $700 in her myTab but her flight is $1000. At the time of booking, she can run $100 through PayPal on her credit card to add to her funds and then another $200 with another credit card. We’re the only travel site (that we know of, globally) that offers this service. And the best part, myTab takes care of the PayPal fees for gifting, saving & topping up funds!

myTab really helps students be more financially astute and prove to their parents they’re mature enough to be dollar savvy since myTab gives them that confidence of being empowered. Students can now show their family they mean business, through fundraising their study abroad trip! We also have a new Facebook Web App, so you can check in your live trips & connect with other students in the same city. So no more missing Facebook status updates or long commenting threads. Just see who’s in the same city as you and create even more spontaneous memories. myTab is created to all helps travel dreams come true before and during your trip.
5) Can friends and family contribute to your My Tab budget? How does this process work?

Absolutely! Just shout ‘put it on myTab for my study abroad flight’ on myTab and this posts to your Facebook wall so family & friends are aware. Then they can gift students within the website (if Facebook friends) or again, gift using the vanity url option. Or you can simply email select family/friends through your Account settings if you want to keep your fundraiser trip private. The transactions are instant and both sender & recipient receive confirmation emails. It’s so great to see the cash email notifications flood in, sign in to your myTab account and cha-ching, the travel cash is waiting there for you.

6) What kinds of measures does My Tab take to ensure that one’s personal data remains private and secure?

We don’t share any customer details with anyone and no spam at all. This is a very strict policy of ours. Even if you sign up with Facebook to myTab, you still control 100% of what you want to shout out to your Facebook Wall. The same goes with Account settings – there are many options on privacy. Since we run transactions through PayPal, myTab doesn’t hold any credit card details so financial security is at its highest since everyone knows & trusts PayPal.

7) Did we really read that you can use My Tab as a gift registry?! Tell us more!

Of course. Imagine you’re getting married? myTab is unique in that you can have a honeymoon registry, and we’re the only registry that also lets you save travel cash, along with contributions. How about a graduation registry? We see many tweets from students who really want a graduation trip. How fantastic is this that you get to contribute towards your friend’s well deserved graduation celebration travels. myTab is very simple – it’s a way to gift, save, plan, share & book travel yet the uses for our site are extensive: travel fundraisers, study abroad, celebration getaways (just using our saving feature with friends), family reunions, surprise birthday gifting, wedding/honeymoon and so much more. It’s a whole new ball game in travel and a really valuable gift, knowing your contribution will be used for an incredible memorable trip. Our goal is to help travel dreams come true and with thousands of customers using myTab, we’re making these trip wishes become possible.

Featured Q&A of the Week (March 2, 2012)

Title: Juliette Sobanet, Author and French Professor
Sleeping with Paris Juliette SobanetEducation: B.A. in French, Georgetown University
M.A. in French Language and Civilization, New York University in France
Undergraduate Study abroad at l’Université Lumière Lyon II, Lyon, France
Master’s degree coursework taken at l’Université de Paris III, La Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris, France

Website: www.juliettesobanet.com



Twitter: @JulietteSobanet



Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Juliette-Sobanet-Author-of-Sleeping-with-Paris/229741887075155



Brief summary of business: Juliette Sobanet is the Amazon.com bestselling author of Sleeping with Paris. Her second novel, Kissed in Paris, was released in February of 2012. She is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York University in France, and she has lived and studied in both Paris and Lyon. Currently, she is a French professor in the Washington, DC area where she lives with her husband and their two massive cats. When she’s not writing, she’s eating chocolate, practicing yoga, or scheming on when she can travel back to France.

1) Tell us more about your love affair with Paris. When did it start? How did you meet? What are your favorite things about Paris? Least favorite?

I first met Paris on a high school trip to Europe when I was fifteen years old. It was definitely love at first sight. The cheese, the scrumptious pastries, the charming cobblestone streets, the gorgeous language—how could a small-town girl from Ohio resist? My love affair with Paris (and with the entire country of France) has continued over the years as I’ve studied abroad, become a French professor, and traveled back any chance I get.

My favorite things about Paris? I love the way the streets smell like freshly-baked, buttery croissants first thing in the morning . . . and then I love eating those croissants. I love getting lost in the tiny rues that weave around the Seine River and hearing the beautiful sound of the French language everywhere I go. And I love how free I feel when I’m there, like I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

Least favorite things about Paris? The gloomy winters, when everything seems to turn to gray. But that’s when you just have to hop on a train and travel down to Lyon or to the Côte d’Azur to catch some of that southern sunlight.

2) Studying abroad, similar to being an author, often times gives you a new sense of identity. What are the difficulties that you encounter when navigating between your identities as an American, a Francophile, a writer, etc.?

At times, it is very difficult for me to balance my love of France and my desire to live there with my roots in the States. There are days when I miss France so much I can hardly stand it, but at the same time, I do really love my life in DC. Thankfully, once I began writing novels based in France, I realized I’d found a way to express my passion for the country that feels like a second home to me without breaking the bank by traveling over there constantly! And hopefully I will be able to take “research” trips back to France for my next novel . . .

Kissed in Paris Juliette Sobanet3) Has writing romantic fiction always been a dream of yours? What inspires your stories the most?

I’ve always loved writing as a creative outlet, but it was during my year in Paris completing my Master’s degree that I realized I wanted to begin writing a novel. Paris is such a romantic, inspiring city—there was no question in my mind that my main characters would travel to Paris . . . and that they would find a little French romance along the way!

4) Can you provide a brief synopsis of Sleeping with Paris? Tell us more about Charlotte Summers!

Charlotte Summers is a sassy, young French teacher who is two days away from moving to Paris with the love of her life and from fulfilling her dream of studying at the prestigious Sorbonne University in France. But when she discovers her fiancé’s online dating profile and has a little chat with the busty red-head he’s been sleeping with on the side, she gives up on committed relationships altogether and decides to navigate Paris on her own.

Determined to stop other women from finding themselves in her shoes, Charlotte creates an anonymous blog on how to date like a man in the City of Love—that is, how to jump from bed to bed without ever falling in love. But, with a slew of Parisian men beating down her door, a hot new neighbor who feeds her chocolate in bed, and an appearance by her sleazy ex-fiancé, she isn’t so sure she can keep her promise to remain commitment-free. 

And, when Charlotte agrees to write an article for a popular women’s magazine about her Parisian dating adventures—or disasters, rather—will she risk losing the one man who’s swept her off her feet and her dream job in one fell swoop?

5) If you could give a few words of advice or encouragement to aspiring study abroad students what would they be?
Savor every experience during your time studying abroad. Your months overseas will go by so quickly, and when you return, it’s back to real life. Keep a journal so you don’t forget the details, and take every opportunity to explore, learn, and meet new people. Above all, keep your sense of humor. There will be mishaps, you will be homesick (or maybe not:), and you may or may not click with your host family. But it’s all part of the extraordinary experience of living in a new country, and if you’re open to whatever comes your way, you’ll have fun with it. My study abroad experiences in France changed my life and shaped who I have become today, and the only regret I have is that I can’t travel back in time to do it again.

Featured Q&A of the Week (February 24, 2012)

Name: Alejandra Diaz

Title: Editor at Hotcourses Abroad

Website: www.hotcoursesabroad.com

Twitter: @Hotcourses_abrd

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/HotcoursesAbroad

Brief summary of business: Hotcourses Abroad has a simple mission: to produce websites that make it easy for people to find the right school, college or university to pursue educational opportunities for themselves or their families. Especially when leaving home and pursuing studies abroad. We believe in the fundamental importance of education as a way to expand opportunities and help people grow as human beings. We want to be the best in the world at helping people find the programme or course that is right for them, whatever stage they are in life.

1) In your opinion, why is study abroad crucial to the university experience?

It is important to go back to what the term ‘university’ means: it is a matter of becoming ‘universal’ and connected with peoples and cultures that otherwise you wouldn’t discovered. You can achieve that by reading books or surfing on internet. However, this experience is doubly enhanced when you go after the real thing. Studying abroad gives you the invaluable chance to learn and enrich your life from first-hand experience, by meeting people different places, visiting spaces you would only see in photos and overall, feeling part of a wider picture.

2) How did Hotcourses Abroad come about? How do you foresee your company developing/growing in the future?

The idea emerged from knowing how influential the experiences from other people that have studied abroad are. If you are planning to go abroad, you would like to know how it is like to live and study in a particular. Students and alumni can help future students by telling them what it’s really like at their college or university. We also aim to provide latest news and updated information about some of the most popular study destinations, from international students’ point of view.

As the world becomes more accessible and easy to travel about, we see more students traveling abroad to pursue higher education and training. It seems it is a trend that is here to stay. In that sense, we see the company growing and expanding to welcome more students and listen to their experiences.

We see that at the moment you provide information and reviews on study abroad programs in the USA, UK, Australia, Netherlands, Sweden, Ireland, Singapore, New Zealand, and Malaysia. Do you intend on expanding your selection of countries in the future? If so, in what countries?

We are growing on a constant basis. We have recently added Sweden, Ireland and the Netherlands as part of our top study destinations, but future additions will include France, Spain and Italy. They are still work in progress.

3) Tell us more about the Hotcourses student rankings. How does it work? How can students participate?
We know that for parents and students the quality of education that they will receive is very important. Expert organizations publish their ‘Best universities’ rankings every year. By adding this extra column we are including the human touch, what real students really think about these universities and colleges. Students that have been through the experience of studying in a university abroad can tell us their experiences in our reviews section or write blogs for us.

4) Based on your knowledge and experience in the industry, what are three absolute “musts” that any study abroad programme should offer its participants?

Must #1: Strong International student society. International students really have the need to belong to something meaningful and there is nothing better than a strong international community to get involve in. It becomes your second family! A good social programme is the icing on the cake.

Must #2: Career services tailored for international graduates. Securing a good job after graduating is very important for international students as many of them incur in debts to pay for studies abroad. The professional queries of international students aren’t the same ones as the domestic students’. They have visa regulations, language differences and other cultural specificities that need a dedicated treatment.

Must #3: Good academic guidance. Lecturers and tutors struggle with the amount of students -domestic and international- they have to deal with on a daily basis. However, international students sometimes need that little extra guidance as they try to cope with a new academic environment and the pressure to excel amid future career prospects. It should be universities’ concern to provide the spaces and resources for international students to find the support they need to meet their academic goals.

Featured Q&A of the Week (February 17, 2012)

Name of Charity: Lattitude Global Volunteering

Title: Nick Adie (Communications Manager)

Website:  www.lattitude.org.uk



Twitter: @LattitudeUK



Facebook: www.facebook/globalvolunteering

Brief summary of Charity: Lattitude Global Volunteering is an international youth development charity that specialises in sending young people on long term, challenging voluntary placements worldwide. Previously known as GAP Activity Projects, Lattitude Global Volunteering have been operating since 1972, it was their name from which the term ‘gap’ year was coined.

Lattitude Global Volunteering helps young people from developing countries as well as developed countries to volunteer (specialising in the ages between 17 and 25), they make sure their placements deliver sustainable value for the children, communities and institutions that their volunteers work in. They aim to match every volunteer to a placement that really needs their skills and where they can have the most benefit as part of a larger, ongoing programme.

Lattitude Global Volunteering do not offer “voluntourism”; the efforts of the volunteers are both needed and appreciated. Lasting between 4 and 12 months the placements are unique, structured and rewarding, they are designed to allow a complete immersion in the culture, encouraging a positive and productive relationship between the volunteer and the host, to the maximum benefit of both. For 40 years, Lattitude Global Volunteering has been sending young people to volunteer around the world, they are dedicated to the educational development of volunteers and the host communities they work with.

1) Volunteering abroad is a wonderful way to embrace the abroad experience while giving back to our world at the same time. Tell us about the benefits of spending a gap year abroad as a volunteer as opposed to simply as a study abroad student?
The obvious benefit of volunteering is the opportunity to help a community. Where a volunteer’s efforts can be appreciated and where they make a difference as part of an ongoing, sustainable programme. But the benefits to the volunteer are also vast. Unlike a university or college environment, volunteering overseas offers volunteers the chance to integrate with a community and immerse themselves in a culture completely different to their own. At Lattitude Global Volunteering we are dedicated to ensuring volunteers become part of a society where they work. This not only benefits the volunteer immensely and enables them to enjoy the experience more; it also enables a situation whereby they can be of real benefit to their host community

2) Who is eligible to participate? What are the requirements? Tell us more about the application process.
We are a youth development charity, so anyone between the ages of 17-25 is eligible. However there will be restrictions on nationalities due to visa regulations etc. The majority of our volunteers come from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK, US, Ireland, Germany, Ecuador and Ghana. But we have dealt in the past with many nationalities from Europe, Africa and The Americas.

The application process is fairly straight forward. All a potential volunteer needs to do is download an application form from our website and send it in. However it is our matching process that is particularly important. We match every volunteer to placements based on their skills, interests and personality. Many people do not recognize volunteering should not be like booking a holiday or ordering and off the shelf product. It is important to send volunteers that are capable of meeting the host communities needs, otherwise it is unfair on the host community and the volunteer. As such we have a several step matching process that helps allocate the right people to placements where they can be of real use and as such will gain out of the experience too.

This is why we are quite against short term volunteering or ‘voluntourism’, it is unfair to think you can waltz in somewhere for a week or two to ‘help’ before lying on a beach with a clear conscience. Volunteering overseas must be monitored and assessed as so it continues to be of benefit to a community.

3) We realize that in today’s world it can be necessary to pay a fee to volunteer. How are the fees that Lattitude Global Volunteering used? Do you have any tips or suggestions for students that would like to participate but need to raise money to do so?
As a charity we do not make a profit from our volunteers, every single penny goes into the continuation of running placements. Many people do not understand why they have to pay to volunteer; but it is not the cost of volunteering per se but the cost of support throughout the time spent on placement. As such the fee goes to the support of volunteers prior to their placement (i.e. helping with visas, flights etc), whilst on placement (inc in-country staff) as well as the continuation of placements and ensuring they are safe and beneficial to volunteer and host alike. At Lattitude Global Volunteering we also run briefings, in-country orientations and post placement debriefs. With long term volunteering such as ours, the fee can work out at as little as £45 a week which includes all food and accommodation. So it can actually be cheaper than living at home!
There are many ways to raise the money, and the benefits of going with a charity is that you can fundraise for your placement. All our volunteers receive a fundraise pack which points them in the right directions, but we are only a phone call away should they need any extra support. There are so many diverse ways to fundraise that volunteers have done previously, I won’t list them all but I will say, with a bit of imagination and some effort, it is amazing how much you can raise towards a voluntary placement.

4) Are students placed with other volunteers or on their own? What kinds of activities do participants take part in throughout their stay?
Most volunteers are placed with other volunteers, usually in a pair. We are very dedicated to ensure that volunteers benefit from the experience and a big part of that is ensuring they interact and eventually become part of the community they work in. Hence we do not place people in more than pairs as there is always the temptation to hide amongst a group and not get involved as much as you perhaps should. Every volunteer is matched through our process to ensure they are in a community and work type that is right for them. Sometimes this may require volunteers to be placed alone. This is not a regular occurrence but neither is it unusual as in some placements there is only enough work for one volunteer. But in this case volunteers would have been assessed to see if this was suitable for them and of course that they are happy in doing so. Some young people are truly inspiring and take on the challenge in their stride. I really admire these people, it is hard not to compare your 18 year old self with them and think ‘would I have the confidence to spend 7 months in a community in Fiji, sometimes the only westerner on a whole island’; I probably wouldn’t. But year on year there are loads of people taking up the challenge and having a fantastic time.

5) Is there any way for interested students to talk with former participants before applying for the Lattitude Global Volunteering experience?
Absolutely. Whenever anybody asks me how you can tell if an organization is good, I always suggest they talk to ex-volunteers. In my experience volunteering is done right, volunteers have fantastic life changing experiences, this generally means they are happy to talk about it to anyone and everyone! If an organization cannot provide an ex volunteer for you to talk to you may have to ask why that is the case!

At Lattitude Global Volunteering a lot of our volunteers help us with many things. They are the ones that go into schools and careers fairs to talk about their experiences and present the benefits of real, long term volunteering opportunities. They also stay involved in a number of other ways. For example we host volunteers in the UK from all over the world (including Australia, New Zealand, Ecuador, USA,  Ghana, Ecuador, Canada to name a few). Our British volunteers help out at the orientation of these newly arrived volunteers which is a nice opportunity for them to see it from the other side. It is in many ways what volunteering overseas is all about: encouraging cross cultural communication and a sense of global citizenship. So it is fantastic for us to see the interaction between all these nationalities linked together through the common factor of volunteering.

Furthermore, we are installing a social plugin onto our website that will enable everybody to discuss their volunteering experiences, answer questions for potential and pre-departure volunteers as well as write blogs throughout their experience. We hope this sharing of knowledge will encourage more to volunteer and spread the message of volunteering further. We hope the application will be up and running by March 2012. See www.lattitude.org.uk  

Featured Q&A of the Week (February 10, 2012)

Your Name and Name of Business: Tony Amante Schepers, Panrimo Personalized Study and Intern Abroad Programs

Title(s): CoFounder, Director of University Relations

Website: panrimo.com

Twitter: panrimo_abroad

Facebook: facebook.com/Panrimo

Brief summary of business: Panrimo offers opportunities for personal growth through unparalleled experiences. With Panrimo Personalized Study and Intern Abroad Programs, you’ll understand and love life overseas because you created the experience. Build your program. Go explore. It’s your choice. Panrimo is here to help.

1) As you know there are countless program options available to students that are interested in studying abroad. One unique aspect of Panrimo is that you offer a personalized experience. Tell us more about how you arrived at this decision, as well as how you personalize the experiences of your clients.

True story: There wasn’t a college program that fit our study or intern abroad needs in college. And when it came to companies, being one in a group of 100+ speaking English and not adventuring very far wasn’t at all appealing. Not a whole lot of exploring going on there.

And so we started Panrimo! It’s about personalized experiences designed by the student, for the student, with guidance and intelligent assistance by seasoned travelers and educators.

2) Apart from study abroad options, what kinds of services do you provide students (i.e. internships abroad, financial aid advice, etc.)

Plenty! We offer personalized internships abroad, meaning that you tell us your ideal short-term work experience abroad and we go to work securing it for you. We also offer over a dozen customized options in each city for you to personalize your abroad program. These range from unique excursions and afternoon lectures with local photographers, painters, chemists, and business owners, to an array of housing options and airport reception and drop-off. We also provide advice on securing financial aid and academic credit and necessary visas to study or intern abroad. One-stop shop with Panrimo with individualized attention.

3) What qualifies an individual as a Panroamer?

Aside from the basics of a minimum 3.0 GPA and sound mind and understanding of what going overseas entails, we interview each potential Panroamer. We do not accept all who apply since we know it takes a certain someone to appreciate our aspect of studying and interning abroad.

The perfect Panroamer is a dreamer of lemon gelato in Florence, a cyclist through the French Alps, decision maker of your own life experiences, truth seeker of temples and Buddha in Beijing, lover of a caring host family or wicked apt. in downtown Lyon, dancer of 2 a.m. tango, intern hopeful in business marketing in Czech Republic, seeker of adventurous excursions, pizza parlor paisano’s new friend in Sicily, or a friend of a friend wanting to study or intern abroad. Panroamers become part of an international club.

4) What is the advantage to booking ones study abroad experience through Panrimo as opposed to another study abroad provider?

Bottom line: personalized service and unique experiences before, during, and after one’s abroad program I know for a fact you cannot get anywhere else. We created it all!

If a student chooses to go abroad through their own university or a typical third party provider, they’re going to get what is promised.

Panrimo takes it a step further.

Sure, we promise what you see on paper. But then, so much more. Panrimo’s overseas coordinators invite you into their home for dinner and introduce you to local friends. If you study photography and are interested in European architecture, what questions would you ask a Czech photographer over lunch in Prague? Or if you study business and marketing, would you strap on goggles and tour manufacturing plants in Buenos Aires? How about British hospital standards, volunteering with doctors to understand UK patient care? Or would you debate your French professor about national revolutions in a classroom overlooking the French Alps?

It is truly personalized experiences such as these making Panrimo stand out as the optimal choice for the Panroamer interested in maximizing his or her cultural understand while abroad.  Intimate service, personal programming, a guaranteed adventure!  We truly want our students to explore.

5) Based on your experiences, what are some common struggles that students deal with while planning their study abroad? Do you have any tips for overcoming these struggles?

The three most common struggles students often must deal with is financing their program, knowing how to best prepare for their program before departing, and maintaining realistic expectations.

Money is a universal burden and necessity in life, and going abroad is no exception. With careful and advanced planning, students can find the funds they need. I went abroad three times in college, and wrote grants and applied for scholarships each time. Seek out campus departments for money; write a solid proposal once, and it pay dividends when applying for money across the board; talk to your local Lion’s Club or Rotary, promising a presentation upon returning; hit up your program provider and ask to be an ambassador on campus in return for discounts. And save, save, save.

Preparing mentally to go abroad—no matter the reason of travel—is important. I’ve seen students (back when I was in college; never Panroamers!) land overseas in a new country in a new climate in an odd culture and freak. They did no reading, no blog scanning, nothing. Panrimo staff encourage our Panroamers to get immersed in their new-found country/city/culture/music/food immediately. Get researching, read books by local authors translated into English if necessary, download a few local songs on iTunes, watch movies, know the country’s history, talk with students on your campus from the area, get knowing!

My greatest challenge in placing Panroamers in internships (and my partner’s struggle in preparing Panroamers to study abroad) is bringing the student to a realistic level of understanding. Going abroad on an academic program isn’t all fun and games; you have to work. It’s like going from living at home in high school to the sudden freedom and acclimation the first few weeks in college. Multiply that by 10 and that’s life abroad. A new everything, a new routine, plus study or work components compound the experience. For study abroad, it’s a new way of being taught and by a different method, most likely. For interning/volunteering abroad, it’s putting on good clothes, interacting a personal levels with a brand-new culture and customs, and being expected to perform.

Continuing with the internship theme, students and adults wishing to become Panroamers need to realize the employer is taking their time and resources in training them, only for the Panroamer to depart a few months later. Likewise, the student is likely working for free and having to do administrative tasks initially. The viewpoint from all involved can be either win-win or lose-lose. Lowering expectations and being “wowed” is the key.

In the end, studying or interning abroad, those who do it are the lucky ones. Panrimo staff are equally as lucky to work with Panroamers—young an old—to help create a remarkable and unique experience abroad.

Featured Q&A of the Week (February 3, 2012)

Name: Sucheta Rawal

Title: Founder

Website: www.goeatgive.com

Twitter: @goeatgive

Facebook: www.facebook.com/goeatgive

Brief summary of business: A movement that encourages people to learn about different cultures around the world through food & community service. Sucheta documents & shares her experiences through freelance writing, speaking & teaching cooking classes.

Sucheta in Nepal

1) Connecting cultures through food and volunteering is a unique combination that is hard to find today. How did your ideas for Go.Eat.Give surface? What has been your biggest success thus far? Challenge?

After traveling to about 30 countries, I found the entire process somewhat monotonous – you stay in a hotel eat at the tourist traps, visit museums & get back pictures that are same as every other person’s. I decided I wanted something more from my travels abroad & chanced upon something known as voluntourism. It is the idea of combining a vacation with volunteering. I went to Russia, Morocco & Nepal on such trips where I spent half the time exploring the place and the other half connecting with the locals and giving back to their communities. Food is pivotal in any travels, but it became an important part of my concept as not everyone is able to take time off or have the resources to go to another part of the world, but can still learn about the culture through its food. As humans, we all love to eat & majority of our socialization takes place over meals. It’s a common element that brings us together.

2)   Often times young travelers, such as our ubies (term used for study abroad students at ubumm), wish to volunteer in foreign countries. While a seemingly great idea, this kind of adventure can become very expensive, making international volunteerism ironically very expensive. Based on your experiences, what kind of tips can you give students that wish to volunteer on a budget? What kind of difference can students make around the world from their own backyard?

Its true volunteer vacation programs cost money, but it will be a lot less than what you would pay if it was just a vacation, staying in a hotel & eating out. At most places, you can choose to stay with a host family & eat home cooked meals, which cuts your cost. In Nepal, volunteers pay VIN about $6/ day for food & board. My advice is look for cheaper countries to travel to (such as Asia & Africa) where you can find bargains. Also, the longer you go for, the less you end up paying per week. The majority of the money you will spend is on flights, visa & vaccinations, so make the most of your visit.

When at home, students can & should actively be involved in making a difference. They should think about what they are passionate about (helping kids, economic development, education, etc.). There are plenty of opportunities from hosting international delegates, designing class curriculums, running marketing campaigns, peach building programs that have global impact but can be done virtually.

3) We see that you leave room for donations on your website. How are these donations put to use?

The donations I collect from people are used towards the volunteer vacation programs. I work with non profits like Cross Cultural Solutions & Volunteer Initiative Nepal that charge a flat fee to its volunteers. The money is allocated towards basic expenses as well as community development projects.

http://www.crossculturalsolutions.org/

http://www.volunteeringnepal.org/

4) On your website you provide a range of recipes to browse through. Can you share with us one of your favorite recipes?

I have a big sweet tooth and can hardly resist the temptation of desserts. My favorite recipe is dulce de leche (caramel) gelato. When I was in Italy, I was eating gelato 3 times a day & this one comes very close to reminding me of my happy eating days!

http://www.goeatgive.com/making-gelato-at-home/

5)   What is your definition of travel?

My definition of travel is – when you travel you are in a global classroom where you learn about people, culture, history, geography and spirituality. Over the years, I have met some wonderful people that have made me believe in the goodness of the world & encourage me to do more. I have also discovered many things about my own self which I wouldn’t have by living in the comfort of my home. It’s amazing what a few days abroad can teach you! What better way to understanding life than by seeing the world?

Featured Q&A of the Week (January 27, 2012)

the cultureistName(s): Maria Russo: Co-Founder and Editor, Anthony Russo: Co-Founder, Director of Marketing & Advertising

Website: http://www.thecultureist.com

Twitter: @traveladdictgrl @culture_ist

Facebook: facebook.com/Culture-ist

Brief summary of business: Culture-ist is an online magazine for people who are passionate about being active members of a global society. Our mission is to spread the word about the innovative ideas and positive missions of people who connect and respect the diverse cultures of the world, uncover the beauty and mystery of foreign lands, and tackle issues that threaten the welfare of our planet. Our goal is to report on the aspects of culture that truly matter, and the irony, humor and hope that come with the territory.

Travel. Food. Artisans. News. Green. Philanthropy — Get Cultured

1)  Not only does The Culture-ist cover travel news, but you also go in depth in political events and trends in lifestyle around the world. Based on the news that you cover today, what are some of the most important global issues that you believe every ubie (a.k.a. study abroad student) should be aware of?

We think ubies should be aware that with nearly 7 billion people on the planet humanity is facing a crossroads. We need to figure out how to live sustainably, peacefully and tolerantly. As students studying abroad, the most powerful lessons to be learned are those of culture. When you can understand how others live, work, eat and “play” you can begin to see the world as a global community.

2)    The Culture-ist draws a lot of attention to eco-friendly movements and practices being employed around the globe. What kinds of tips can you give a student that is interested in being environmentally aware while traveling?

Never take, or buy more than you need. Be conscious of the local infrastructure–it may not support simple things such as flushing toilet paper. Buy local. Eat local. Be mindful of power usage and reuse and recycle whenever possible.

3)    If The Culture-ist could study abroad, where would you go and why?

Difficult Answer: Afghanistan. Because there is so much to learn about how to successfully empower women who are poor and repressed.

Easy Answer: Thailand. The people, food and natural landscapes are ethereal and you have easy access to Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Malaysia.

4)    We noticed that the “Good” section of your emagazine focuses on important causes and campaigns that you support. Tell us more about the campaigns that you support and why.

We are huge proponents of campaigns that effectively support clean water projects, education, the environment, oppressed women, healthcare in developing nations and indigenous people. It’s a large list, but we feel there is much work to be done to help humanity (and the planet) get back on its feet.

5)    Ubies are often times interested in writing about their study abroad experiences. Does The Culture-ist offer any writing or internship opportunities? If so, how does one go about submitting an application?

Yes! We are currently accepting applications for editorial interns. Please send inquiries to thecultureist@gmail.com and provide a brief description about yourself and why you’re interested in writing for Culture-ist magazine.

Featured Q&A of the Week (January 20, 2012)

Name(s): Cam and Nicole Wears

Title(s): Traveling Canucks

Website: http://travelingcanucks.com

Twitter: @travelcanucks

Facebook: Traveling Canucks

Nicole & Cameron Wears

Nicole & Cameron Wears

Brief summary of business: The Traveling Canucks are Nicole and Cameron Wears, a married couple living in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia on the west coast of Canada.

Travel and adventure is a common passion that has always played an important role in our lives. Our exposure to travel began at young ages, with Cameron living in Nairobi, Kenya at age 12 and Nicole backpacking around Europe at age 19. After living in Malaysia in 2004 and exploring SE Asia, we caught the travel bug and have since developed a slight addiction to world exploration.

We consider ourselves very fortunate to have traveled to over 50 countries together in the past 7 years, fulfilling many of our life goals and dreams along the way.

1)    We admire the adventurous spirit of the Traveling Canucks. What has been the hardest part about life on the road? the most rewarding?

The hardest part about long term travel is the constant movement. Packing and unpacking might not seem like a big chore, but it starts to get to you after a while. Sleeping in a new bed every couple days can get tiring and unsettling at times, but it’s well worth the headache to be able to experience our wonderful world.

For us, the most rewarding part about travel is being able to experience the world together, fulfilling our dreams as a couple. Travel is more than just snapping photos of cool landscapes and famous monuments. It’s about learning and growing, challenging yourself and pushing your comfort zone. It has opened our eyes and taught us that we really can achieve our life goals.

2)    How much time did you spend planning from the moment that you decided to travel around the world to the moment of takeoff?

We spent about 6 months planning once we committed to traveling around the world. It’s important to have a plan and a general itinerary so that you can budget accordingly. However, our travel plans constantly change so we try not to get too attached to a set itinerary. That’s the beauty of long term travel!

3)    What kinds of budgeting lessons have you learned while traveling the world? Do you have any suggestions not only for saving money while traveling, but also for making money?

We recently published an article that offers budgeting tips for a trip around the world. Here is the link – http://travelingcanucks.com/2011/11/how-to-budget-for-a-trip-around-the-world/

The biggest lesson learned is to start with a plan. Write down what you want to get out the trip and then do some basic research to determine what it will cost. Simply budgeting $50 per day just doesn’t cut it, especially if you have a long list of goals and will be visiting several countries that have different currencies.

When it comes to saving, the biggest piece of advice we have is to pay your travel budget first. If you need to put aside $1,000 per month then do that first, before you pay your other bills. By doing so, you will quickly learn how much money you are spending on unnecessary things like eating out at restaurants or drinking at the bar. It’s amazing how little you really need, and it will be good practice for when you are on the road and managing a tight budget.

There are lots of ways to make money while traveling. You can work at hostels, restaurants or find some general labor jobs that pay cash. Although we prefer to not work too much when we travel, we do make money through our website and other online activities, but that’s a whole other conversation.

The Traveling Canucks

The Traveling Canucks

4)    What has been your favorite trip thus far? Why?

That’s a great question that seems to have a different answer every time it’s asked. Every country we’ve visited has its highlights and standout moments.  It’s too hard to narrow it to just one trip, so here are 6 of our favorite travel experiences:

(1)  Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru (http://travelingcanucks.com/2010/08/hiking-the-inca-trail-to-machu-picchu-peru/ )

(2)  Standing in the presence of the mysterious moai statues on Easter Island (http://travelingcanucks.com/2011/04/the-mysterious-moai-of-easter-island/ )

(3)  Scuba diving the Red Sea off the shores of Dahab, Egypt (http://travelingcanucks.com/2010/05/snorkeling-red-sea-dahab-egypt/ )

(4)  Hot air balloon over the fairy chimneys of Cappadoccia, Turkey (http://travelingcanucks.com/2010/11/hot-air-balloon-over-cappadocia-in-central-anatolia-turkey/ )

(5)  Swimming with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador (http://travelingcanucks.com/2010/05/galapagos-islands-ecuador-south-america-travel/ )

(6)  Driving a campervan the length of New Zealand, from Auckland to Queenstown (http://travelingcanucks.com/2011/03/photography-from-new-zealand-trip/ )

5)    The craft beer scene is exploding in the United States and elsewhere. We love the “Beer Around the World” aspect of your website.  What is your favorite beer in this series?

Wow – that’s a tough question! Our series is more geared towards memorable moments drinking beer around the world, rather than finding the world’s best tasting beer. That said, we have consumed some fantastic beer throughout our travels. The most memorable beer is probably the 2 litre mug of Gosser beer that we had in Vienna, Austria (here is the photo – http://travelingcanucks.com/travelphotography/photo/5910716839/gosser-beer-vienna-austria.html )

Here is the link to the series: http://travelingcanucks.com/travel/series/beer-around-the-world/

6)    What kind of tips can you provide for individuals interested in RTW travel?

There are a lot of things to consider when planning for an around the world adventure. Do you buy a RTW ticket or individual flights? Where do you want to go and for how long? How much money do you need? What time of year should you depart? What direction should you go?

The biggest tip that we can give is to create a loose itinerary and develop a plan to make it happen. Few people want to travel indefinitely, so determine your general timeline and remember to save some money for when your trip ends (you’ll need to get your life started again and that requires money). Things will go wrong, so expect it and be flexible. You won’t get to do everything you want but if you have a plan you’ll come very close.

We published an article that provides travel tips to help you plan for an around the world adventure. Here is the link – http://travelingcanucks.com/2010/08/planning-around-the-world-trip-travel-tips/

Featured Q&A of the Week (January 13, 2012)

Name(s): Stephen Trenery

Title(s): Editor-in-Chief at EuroBuzz

Website: www.eurobuzz.com

Twitter: @eurobuzz

Facebook: Eurobuzz

EuroBuzz LogoBrief summary of business: Providing a European Cell Phone that works everywhere in Europe, together with the simplest tariff available today.

 1) Purchasing a temporary cell phone in Europe can be intimidating for a ubie that isn’t familiar with European phone standards. Tell us why study abroad students should connect with Eurobuzz while in Europe as opposed to other cell phone carriers.

Traveling somewhere new is both exciting and intimidating, not just for students, but for nearly everyone. Here at EuroBuzz we believe in making things simple. We provide a flat rate of 79c per minute, no matter what European country you are studying in, along with an unrivalled service – one that you never lose connection to.

We have no monthly fees or roaming charges – you just pay for any calls that you make. These things make EuroBuzz different from other providers.

If you take your domestic cell phone to Europe, there’s a good chance that it won’t work – either because your cell provider doesn’t allow international roaming or because your phone doesn’t support the technology that they use in Europe. Even if it does work, you could get a big shock when you get your bill because roaming rates are very high.

If you use another European Cell Phone service, costs between different countries can change, sometimes without you even knowing about it – which makes the ability to budget for a phone allowance essential. With pre-paid services, you can end up paying for credit that you never use, but with EuroBuzz you only ever pay for what you use – meaning that you never lose pre-paid call allowances.

2) Does Eurobuzz offer any special promotions that our ubies should be aware of?

Yes, we currently have our European Cell Phone discounted from $49 to $29 and for those that have an unlocked compatible phone, our European SIM Card is discounted from $19 to $9. We run promotions at different times during the year too, so come join us on Facebook, Twitter account and keep checking on our website.

3) How does one go about ordering a phone/phone plan? Can they do this before arriving in Europe? Is a special phone or phone device necessary in order to use Eurobuzz?

It’s simple to order, just visit the website and it can all be done in a few minutes on there. Whether you want to buy a phone, or just a SIM card to pop in to your existing handset. Please bear in mind if ordering only a SIM card to make sure that your phone is compatible, an explanation can be found on our website to help you check.

Getting a phone or SIM card delivered is easy, we currently ship to the US, Guam, Canada and Puerto Rico and we’re looking to expand other countries during 2012 too.

4) Are all calls, including incoming calls, really just 79 cents/minute?

Yes, all calls in Europe are 79 cents/minute. As I mentioned earlier it’s a flat rate so you know exactly where you stand when making and receiving calls using EuroBuzz. It’s little things like knowing what you pay, no matter where you are, that makes a student life that bit easier.

5) What are the top reasons why your customers enjoy using the services provided by Eurobuzz? 

To be honest, I’m not sure where to start. There are lots of reasons why people use EuroBuzz whilst in Europe.

Here’s what our customers like about EuroBuzz:

–       Quality of service; many customers say it’s actually like talking on their own phone back home.

–       Simple flat rate; our customers enjoy the fact they can easily budget each call they make or receive.

–       Support; our support team are always here to give a helping hand.

These are just a few of the reasons that make EuroBuzz America’s number one choice for European Cell Phones.

Or just check out: www.eurobuzz.com for lots more information on how a EuroBuzz European Cell Phone can enhance your studying abroad experience.

Featured Q&A of the Week (January 9, 2012)

Kelly Go Girl Guides

Kelly, Founder of Go Girl Guides

Name(s): Kelly Lewis, Go! Girl Guides

Title(s): Founder

Website: http://www.gogirlguides.com

Twitter: @gogirlguides

Facebook: facebook.com/gogirlguides

Brief summary of business: Go! Girl Guides publishes travel guidebooks made just for women.

We noticed that you started your guide books with Thailand. What was the motivation for that?

Honestly, I think I was drawn initially to Thailand largely because it was a place I wanted to go. When I began Go! Girl Guides I sat down with a few friends and thought about places that were popular destinations, and also slightly intimidating for the gal traveler, and Thailand quickly fell to the top of the list.

What country will go girl guides be exploring next?
Right now we’re working on Argentina and Mexico. Those two should be out within 2012, and I’m hoping we’ll complete Costa Rica, India and Belize in 2013.

What kind of information do you include in your guidebooks that is specific to women?
We focus largely on health and safety in our books. For the Thailand guidebook, we interviewed a Thai OB/GYN, provided a list of women’s health clinics throughout the country, and talked about things like where to buy tampons and why it’s so hard to find bras that fit in Thailand. We wanted to give real, honest view of the country but also make it a little fun, because traveling IS fun. As a bonus, we added a shopping section to each city, listing the best markets in town. And a recipe section (not that men can’t enjoy that too!)

Do you have a favorite travel story that you would like to share?
I have so many! We included a lot of them in the book, actually. Like the story we put in about That One Time I Got Jumped by a Monkey in Lopburi (Thailand). Everyone seems to like that one.. haha, can’t imagine why! Lesson learned: wild monkeys are terrifying!

Based on your feedback, what do women find most useful from your guidebooks?
We keep our guidebooks pretty simple, and so far our readers have enjoyed that. Our books are full-color, have lots of pictures and we’ll list, say, three or four guesthouses that we felt were clean and safe, for each city, as opposed to 10, all crammed in small print on a black-and-white page. Our girls have also liked that it provides a full range of information: everything from how to avoid Bangkok nightclub raids to a listing of free volunteer options throughout the country. We packed it all in. And it’s so pretty!

Do you think that women face certain challenges when traveling as a opposed to male travelers?
Absolutely I do, largely relating to health and safety. But, I also don’t want to fearmonger and say that it’s not safe for women to travel the world. It is. I firmly believe that people are generally good. However, the difficulties women face while traveling will vary greatly by country (which is why our books are by country). For example, a woman traveling alone through a place like Brazil will have a much different experience than a woman traveling alone through a place like Thailand. The men can be far more aggressive, the atmosphere more dangerous and theft is more common. Traveling the world is awesome, though, and we really want to encourage travel and show how incredible it can be. We see our guidebooks as just an extra tool to use to stay safe as you navigate the world.

Featured Q&A of the Week (December 30, 2011)

Name(s): Jemma Davies

Title(s): Co-Founder and Project Manager

Website: www.thestudentworld.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/thestudentworld

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thestudentworld

student world logoBrief summary of business: The Student World is a free study abroad event for students in the UK. All exhibitors are based outside of the UK and it is the perfect place to find out all of the details about living and studying in another country!

1) What is The Student World and how did it come to be?

The Student World is the only event of its kind in the UK where students can find out more about studying their degree abroad. There were a few factors that created the Student World:

  • The UK encountered some major changes with tuition fees after the publication of The Browne Report. Undergraduate tuition fees in the UK treble up to a maximum of £9,000 in September 2012.
  • There is more demand than supply in the UK – over 200,000 students did not secure a place at a UK university in 2010.
  • International Universities offer English taught degrees and recruit students from across the world to study with them all of the time but it’s very uncommon in the UK and so The Student World was born.

2) The education industry in the UK, as well as around the world, is constantly evolving. What role do you see The Student World as playing in the study abroad industry?

Currently there are about 2% of UK students studying abroad. I hope The Student World will make students in the UK realize there is a world of opportunity outside of our little island and also I hope it will put the UK on the map for international universities to recruit students from!

3) We recently ran across a statistic that found that less than 5% of students actually study abroad, whereas 55% of students show interest. In your opinion, what are the biggest issues surrounding students that would like to study abroad? for universities that would like to recruit international students?

Students – A big part of making a decision about anything is actually visiting the location, whether you’re getting married or going to university you certainly need a ‘feel’ for the place. Unfortunately it’s a bit unrealistic to expect a student to visit a university campus when it’s half way across the world but the next best thing is to meet a representative at a local event. This way you can get all of your questions answers that you just can’t find online.

For universities – the Internet is an amazing resource but a university website won’t seal the deal! A student can’t do all of their research and find all of the facts and figures they need by solely looking online so some human interaction helps put a face behind the brand. Videos are certainly underrated and they can work wonders for building an impression about what a university is all about. Lipdup videos are all the rage at the moment, which can really highlight your university facilities and student body.

4) Based on your research and experiences, what are the most important qualities to be gained from studying abroad (if you are the student), or from recruiting international students (if you are the university)?

Studying abroad you’ll certainly develop some amazing life skills you won’t get studying in your home country.

  • Independent – You’re in charge! When you head off to another country it’s all down to you. It’s not as easy to head off down the road to see family for the weekend and therefore a successful study abroad experience shows that you are a responsible, mature, and an independent person.
  • Adapting to your new environment. Whether you are studying abroad for a year or 6 – you will need to adapt to your new surroundings, make new friends and absorb the culture. This shows that you are fairly sensitive to and accommodating of other cultures and styles. It also shows that you can interpret multiple perspectives.
  • Taking that step. Actually seeing through your study abroad experience is a huge achievement in itself. It shows you are outgoing, committed, brave and adventurous. You see something you want to do, and you go and get it. Bringing this ‘can-do’ attitude into a working environment is invaluable.
  • Companies are becoming multinational corporations, and even those that aren’t often work with companies based in different countries. Your experience of studying in another country gives you a head start. You have studied internationally so why shouldn’t these skills come into play when you are working? With businesses becoming more internationally focused you will truly stand out with working knowledge of how things work in another country.
  • Real life experiences. While most students don’t realize this, likeability and the ability to make a connection with candidates is incredibly important to employers – after all, they’re going to have to spend at least 40 hours a week with whoever they hire!

For universities recruiting international students obviously it helps the bottom line but it goes a lot deeper than that. Universities who have an international student body will make the classroom diverse and will be learning in a ‘global’ classroom, you’ll be around some of the best students from around the world.

5) At ubumm we try our best to provide students with study abroad words of wisdom every day on our blog. What kind of wisdom can The Student World share with today’s study abroad students?

If you’re in two minds about studying at home or abroad I think you should take a leap of faith and try studying abroad! Don’t worry you won’t be the only international student in the classroom and you’ll make friends for life! Worst case scenario home is only a plane journey away!

Featured Q&A of the Week (December 23, 2011)

study abroad Europe bus2alpsName: Sydney Scheiter
Title(s): Travel Specialist
Website: www.bus2alps.com
Twitter: Bus2alps
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bus2alps/20895286656
Brief summary of business: Since 2003, Bus2alps has been the top travel agency for study abroad students in Europe. Bus2alps offers the best weeklong, weekend, and day trips for students studying anywhere in Europe.

Bus2alps offers a variety of tours, trips, and spring break travel options. Which one (or two) of your trips is your favorite and why?

That’s like asking a parent, “Who’s your favorite child?”  Every trip, like every destination in Europe, is completely unique and has something incredible to offer. Our trip to the Amalfi Coast in southern Italy is my absolute favorite, though. Staying at Seven Hostel in Sorrento is like a vacation on its own, with its rooftop bar and 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains and the beautiful Bay of Naples. We take a private boat tour around the Isle of Capri, which is unbelievably beautiful, and then spend a day on the beach in Positano and an afternoon at Pompeii. I don’t know how this can’t be the best weekend ever.

I also LOVE our Interlaken trip. It’s the most pristine place in the world, right in the middleof the Swiss Alps. I am not joking, it’s like you have been transplanted in some Utopian society, with crazy adventure sports or tranquil spas for all. Skiing and snowboarding in the winter are the highlights for a lot of our guests. I love the adventure activities the most, though: canyon jumping, paragliding, skydiving, canyoning. It’s a three day adrenaline rush, not to mention the hometown of Bus2alps, so it always feels like going home.

Today there are a range of companies around the world that organize tours for students,leaving our ubies (ubumm terminology for “study abroad students”) with many decisionsto make when planning their mini study abroad trips. What is unique about bus2alps asopposed to similar services?

Most of all, Bus2alps really loves our guests (is love too strong of a word? I don’t think so). All of our staff were ubies at some time. We are all working for Bus2alps because our study abroad experience was the most insane time of our lives, and we want to provide the same experience to those lucky enough to be abroad now. This mentality trickles down through our entire company.  Not only do we offer the best trips and the best prices, but because of this mentality we have the best and most involved guides. Throw away your preconceived notions about the average “tour guide”.  We get involved, hang out with out guests and show them the exact things to see, the cheapest way to experience the city, the best places to eat, and the craziest parties at night. Our guides are friends with our ubies, which continues beyond our trips.

Every traveler, not just students, looks for ways to budget their expenses while on the road.  Does bus2alps offer discounts for multiple bookings? Do you run promotions throughout the year?

We absolutely have multi-trip bookings and we do hook our guests up with lots of promotional opportunities. We’ve all been ubies, we know it’s important to get the most for your money! The more trips a ubie books at the same time, the greater his savings. We offer a 5% discount on every trip by just entering a gift code during check out. Any Bus2alps employee can give you a gift code, just send a Facebook message, text or BBM to any of us! A little planning goes a long way when booking trips, too. If you book two trips at the same time, you save an EXTRA 5% on both trips (almost 10% off the price). Three trips saves you an additional 7%, meaning you save nearly 13% on each trip!

We see that bus2alps offers travel insurance when booking a trip. Why is it a good idea to purchase this insurance?

Bus2alps offers cancellation insurance for any of our tours. This allows flexibility for our guests to change their booking last minute if they choose a different for one of our trips.

Which of the bus2alps trips is most popular amongst students?

Greece is extremely popular with the ubies. It’s somewhere you can read about, try to describe, but words never sum up just how beautiful (and crazy fun) Greece is. We have twodifferent trips to Greece; a Spring Break that takes you to Athens, Santorini and Corfu and a Long Weekend that takes you to the (in)famous Pink Palace for a weekend of sun with toga parties, booze cruises and cliff jumping. Greece is the paradise you learn in all those mythology books, assuming you paid attention in Middle School.

What is the funniest bus2alps travel story that you have to date?

LOL! Every weekend there’s a new one. My favorite happened in Munich at Oktoberfest this fall. After spending the day in one of the massive beer tents and having a few steins, one student showed up at the hostel and asked if they had amenities to care for a dog. Turns out he had purchased it for a lot of euro from a guy on the street. The dog was waiting outside the front door barking and whining to come in while he tried to negotiate a kennel for it with the front desk. Sadly he couldn’t keep the dog, though he did get it back to the original owner. The rest of the night was spent toasting the memory of his precious pooch. “I miss my doggggg…”

Night sledding with a fondue dinner? Tell us more about the activities that you offer to ubies.

They’re endless! Bus2alps has the best hook-ups for any activity you can imagine. The best part, Bus2alps guests get exclusive discounts on these activities that no one else can have (yea bragging rights Bus2alps guests)! In Interlaken alone we organize through our partner company, Outdoor Interlaken skiing, snowboarding, paragliding, skydiving, canyon jumping, canyoning, hiking, a high ropes course, and of course the dinner and night sledding. There’s cliff jumping and cave swimming in the Amalfi Coast, white water rafting in Croatia, a booze cruise in Greece, caving in Budapest, surfing in Portugal, touring the Guinness brewery in Dublin, camel riding in Morocco, looking for the Loch Ness monster in Scotland… there’s never a dull moment!

Featured Q&A of the Week (December 17, 2011)

Name: Ann Lombardi, The Trip Chicks®Title: Lead international consultant and tour managerWebsite:  www.thetripchicks.comTwitter: @thetripchicksFacebook: Ann Lombardi (The Trip Chicks)Brief summary of business:  Feisty two-woman travel consulting business offering tour management and booking services.  Our specialties are international vacation travel, tours based in one or two “homebases,” and active/fitness trips.What is the most bizarre thing that happened to you while on the road?  Here are the ones I can mention!  1st: Inexplicably, I got arrested in a suburb of Seoul Korea, and then let go two hours later.  2nd: a Swiss farmer family somehow found out I ruined their iron and melted the dad’s new skivvies, even though I had hid the evidence and replaced the items during my farm stay.What are your top three travel moments?  So many great experiences that it’s hard to pick just three.  1)  Finally seeing the Matterhorn against an uncloudedsky after 13 tries since 1989.  2)  Playing Santa in a Korean elementary school.  3)  Eye-popping cycling in Cambodia and in New Zealand.What do you find to be the most challenging part of traveling to new places? How do you/have you overcome your struggles? Figuring out how the public transportation works and learning to enjoy being totally lost from time to time.  College-age locals are usually so helpful.  Just ask politely and wander freely.Often times ubies will travel in groups after arriving in their host country. Based on your experience in planning trips, what kind of advice would you give to students traveling in groups? Read up on your destination beforeyou travel, pack light, and take a sense of humor and plenty of patience. Explore on your own when you have free time.In the midst of a global recession it is important to budget our expenses. There are so many ways to save money while traveling. What ways have proved most effective for The Trip Chicks®? Couchsurfing and other great, low-cost or no-cost homestay programs, asking for travel tips on Twitter, eating at university cafeterias (surprisingly tasty food – really!), signing up for airfare alerts at airfarewatchdog.com and farecompare.com, staying in a small town or village inn 10 to 30 minutes by public transporation from the big city, eating like a local and not typical North American food, and checking out free museum days, before you begin your trip.

What is the best advice that you could give to a soon-to-be ubie?
Just go away!  Get that passport and explore the great planet we share. Learn a couple of phrases in the country’s language/s. You’ll have some of the best experiences of your life!Every traveler has a mantra that they keep in the back of their mind when encountering new people, places, and situations. What are yours? Remember you are the visitor in the country. Observe, listen, smile. The best travel:  serendipity and experiences with people. Travel light; don’t let your luggage be your ball and chain. When in doubt, leave it out!

15 thoughts on “Featured Q&A’s

  1. Greetings! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I genuinely enjoy reading through your blog posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same subjects? Thank you so much! 15537

  2. Thank you for your comment! First we would like to invite you to write to us at info@ubumm.com if you have a specific Q&A question regarding travel/study abroad that you would like answered. As we say throughout our blog, you ask the questions and we will find you the answer!

    Second, we recommend starting your internet search on WordPress and browsing through all of the study abroad blogs that individuals are creating. It is one of the best ways to interact directly with ubies (a.k.a. study abroad students), and to get a first-hand look at what is going on with students around the world.

    A couple of other websites for study abroad that we like are:

    http://www.goabroad.com (Their website can be a bit generic, but every day they publish a newsletter that wraps up the study abroad headlines of the day which is awesome.)

    –www.lonelyplanet.com (You can always find unique news for young travelers on this website.)

    –All of the websites that we are following on Twitter! The study abroad industry is so vast, and every website offers something different based off of their niche.

    Can’t find what you are looking for? Write us! We are happy to help.

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