SDSU students blog stories from abroad

by Jamie Ballard, Staff Writer

Seven San Diego State students studying abroad are giving the world a real-life glimpse of their experiences through the recently launched SDSU Be International blog.

Alina Bilal, Rose Borges, Rubi Carrazco, Douglas Chun, Kira Collins, Noelle Lovgren and Jessica Nicasio will be sharing their thoughts and unique experiences online. Six of the students are studying abroad for the first time this semester, although Borges has been studying abroad in Istanbul, Turkey since last fall semester and will continue studying there through spring semester.

Bastian Treptau, the international communications specialist for SDSU’s International Student Center, said these students were chosen with the goal of representing a wide range of grade levels, destinations and program types. The Be International initiative also sought students who demonstrated commitment and motivation to keep up with their blog posts, which can include videos and photos in addition to writing.

Treptau said the reason the Be International blog came about was the desire to provide a different and more nuanced perspective on the study abroad experience.

“We have a good amount of very official university websites, which are great to give students info about study abroad, but we wanted to enhance the student perspective,” he said. “That’s the central point. I do think it’s valuable to have an Aztec abroad speaking about what they’re actually doing … you get a different idea of what it’s like to live somewhere else for six months.”

Students will create consistently new content, with each individual posting approximately every other week. Treptau estimates that each student will have about 9 or 10 posts throughout the semester, as well as one “wrap-up” post when they return to the U.S.

Nicasio wrote about the ups and downs of her first few days settling into Madrid in her blog post “Madrid, The City That Never Stops.”

“Let me just say how glad I am to be writing this blog from my new apartment because finding a place was by far the most stressful thing I’ve had to do,” she wrote.

She also remarked on the difficulty of registering for classes abroad.

“If you think registering for classes at SDSU is hard, then you have never registered for classes abroad,” Nicasio wrote. “WebPortal, thank you for everything, seriously!”

However, the speedbumps don’t seem to be impairing her study abroad experience, because she also wrote about how exciting it was to be meeting new people from around the world and exploring the “surreal” city of Madrid.

Borges, who has been studying in Istanbul since last August, gave a rundown of her experiences there so far, from the cultural surprises to the hospitality. One particularly heartwarming experience she shares is the kindness of many Turkish people.

“I live in an apartment with three other exchange students and we are renting from a friendly local Turkish guy,” she wrote. “Today, my German flatmate mentioned to him that I am sick (it’s just a normal winter cold). So on his way over he picked up some fresh mint and lemon and brewed me his special feel-better tea. My landlord! How awesomely nice is that!?”

The Be International blog also features students in the United Kingdom, Korea, Sweden and Hungary.