Monday, October 16, 2017

Everyone Likes a Free $500: A Thrifty Students' Guide to Study Abroad Vouchers

When we go shopping, we all love deals, flash sales, promo codes, etc. The best thing about these deals is that we can strategically time our shopping trips around them and save boatloads of money. Let's face it- when you are a college student, getting a great deal can bring on the same rush of adrenaline as reaching the top of Mount Everest.

You may be asking yourself what this has to do with study abroad.

I was compelled to write this blog because right now, students across the country are saving $500 on airfare thanks to a voucher from CEA Study Abroad. See "Current Deals" below. In order to receive it, they must apply by an earlier deadline. For those students, this is like receiving a free $500 off your airfare without having to write and edit extra essays or request letters of recommendation like you would for a scholarship. (CEA is one of our partner organizations for summer study/internships. Learn more about summer opportunities here.)

While this all may seem too good to be true, the Center for International Education here at MC has seen students get these vouchers time and again. This past summer, two MC students got the same deal: a $500 airfare voucher for Student Universe, a travel booking site for students. They applied for a CEA Study Abroad summer program and entered the valid voucher code on their application.

What's the catch? (Eligibility)

Before using any voucher, read through the eligibility requirements. Oftentimes, to be eligible you must complete the given organization's program application by a particular date. This date may be earlier than the standard application deadline. The catch is that you need to be sure and ready to apply by that date. Do not rush into something if you think you may back out since there can be application fees and deposits to be paid if you back out of an application. Check out the official rules for the aforementioned promo to see what I mean.

How can you make sure that you know about these deals?

-Follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@MCScotsAbroad) and keep an eye out for the Study Abroad Monthly Newsletter in your MC email. Subscribe to the newsletter here. (Scroll down and look for "Subscribe to our mailing list"!) We'll try our best to let you know about deals that come up.

-Make sure those of us who work in the Center for International Education know about your interest in study abroad! (Email us at to set up an appointment.) or subscribe to our mailing list.  We send out deals we find on facebook and to our newsletter subscribers.

-Check for vouchers yourself! Check for vouchers on CISabroad, CEA, and ISA websites. All are for summer study/internships. These deals come and go, so check back regularly.  Read more about our program offerings here.

No, $500 deals will not be available every day!

But checking the study abroad provider websites regularly or even a simple Google search for promos will usually save you something. In addition to vouchers, promo codes are also available. For example, a simple Google search of "Student Universe Promos" today gives you a free $25 off.

Be intentional about looking for deals and you will not regret it! If you have any more questions about vouchers, please email

Current deals:

CISabroad: Trip or Treat and Location-Specific Promos                                     

CEA: $500 Airfare Voucher 

By: Cindy Columbus, International Programs Coordinator

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Navigating Japan: Part 1

Marlena Madden

Navigating Japan: Part 1
Using the Railway System

Before my trip, my super amazing manager Kent made sure to explain the basics of the train/subway system. But, at first, I didn’t have to worry about this because I always traveled with other people who knew who to get where we needed to go. However, I eventually had to fend for myself.

Here are my step by step instructions:
1.      Download Google Maps and make sure to set it to Japan/ let it update when you arrive.
2.      Figure out where you are going and buy the necessary ticket or charge the right amount on your Passmo or Suica card.
3.      Check the station map to make sure you get on the right train for your destination.
4.      Pay attention to the announcements and signs so that you get off at the right place.
5.      Then, successfully arrive at your destination.
While it might sound easy, it is often a struggle for me. During my first week of classes, I got on the wrong train and could only watch in horror as I passed by intended destination. After switching to the right train at the next stop, I narrowly made it to class on time.

Also, I love my Passmo! Whenever I go on a trip, I only need to charge money to the card which is a lot easier than having to buy and keep up with a small ticket. It is also great because many stations allow for you to recharge it to leave the gate if you don’t have enough money already on it. However, with the wrong ticket, you would have to speak with the station attendant for help.

But, if all else fails, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

two months in Norway

Chloe Kilpatrick
Bodø, Norway

Today marks two months of being in Bodø, Norway. The last two months hold some of the most amazing times of my life. I have been hiking on a glacier, hiking around fjords, swimming in the arctic circle, canoeing on an amazing lake, and meeting some of the best people. I can’t believe that this time has gone by so fast. The best part is that its only half way. I still have so much time to embrace this wonderful, enchanting culture.  I’ve even started knitting a Norwegian pullover. Knitting is kind of a big thing here (students even knit in class!). I can’t even imagine the things I will get to do in the months to come.

Before coming to Norway, I was terrified that I would be so homesick that I couldn’t bare it and that I wouldn’t make any friends. Looking back on it, that worry was the biggest waste of my time. This has been hands down some of the best times of my life. I couldn’t have asked for better classes or better people to meet. The classes I am taking involve hiking, looking at art and learning about the Norwegian school system. They couldn’t be more different from my normal class schedule at MC. For a split second after getting into the university I contemplated switching to science classes since they are offered here, but decided it might be good to have a change for once. Thank the Lord I didn’t change them! I think by taking these classes I have taken my experience to a new level. I have had the chance to do so many things that wouldn’t have been possible had I been stuck in a book the whole semester. The break that I have gotten by taking such different classes has offered more insight than I could ask for. Insight into the other faculties and life outside natural science. Over my time at Maryville, I chose to take huge course loads so that I had the opportunity to choose any university I wanted, without having to worry about rather they offered the right science course that would transfer perfectly. I had the chance to look into the country that I would be going to instead of just the classes that would be offered. I am so happy that I decided to torture myself for a few years to get this experience.

It’s still possible to study abroad without planning this far ahead. There is a misconception within the natural science world that it’s too difficult to study abroad for a full semester but that is completely false. Studying abroad is possible to anyone, in any faculty, even if you don’t believe it. There are always ways to manipulate the curriculum to give you that semester with some flexibility. I believe that studying abroad can benefit you greatly if you just let it. My only regret is not studying abroad sooner so that I could extend this to a full year abroad! I strongly URGE you to look into studying abroad if you have the slightest feeling that you might want to do it. It just might change your life, because it definitely has changed mine.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Friluftsliv: The Scandinavian Way

Over the last few weeks I have learned about a very interesting way of life. A very Norwegian way of life. They even have a word for it: friluftsliv. This translates to "free air life" and it is a very important underlying way of life here. Scandinavians, especially Norwegians, spend a great deal of time outside, but it is so much more than just spending time outside. They build a connection with nature; a relationship that develops and grows with time. When they spend time outdoors they get lost within the surroundings. The experiences in nature lead to deep thoughts and deep understanding. They are recharging from the busy world that we live in. 

One of my courses, experience of nature, gave me the chance to nurture my relationship with nature and understand the importance of having one. The class spent so much time going outside and learning how to respect nature. We went on hikes, one that was on a glacier (something that has been on my bucket list for years!), canoeing and camping and all of this influenced my understanding of the connection the Norwegians develop with their surroundings. Our tour guide, Esten, for the canoe tour said something that really made me wonder. Esten said that he loves going into an area that seems completely untouched and spending time there. Once he is ready to leave, he makes it look completely untouched as if he was never there. Not only removing trash, but even putting stones back that he used for a fire pit and dispersing the wood used for the fire. He means everything back to the way it was. It makes you see that if we did this for everywhere we would have a much prettier world. 

I hope as my time continues here that I will develop an even tighter relationship with nature and that I can carry this into my daily life at home but I know it will be hard. I take every chance I get to spend time in the nature here and I plan to do the same when I get home. As the weather gets colder, wetter and windier, Ill keep you updated on how much time I spend outside!

Monday, September 25, 2017

First Blog Post!

Marlena Madden

Hello to anyone who might be reading this!
This is my first blog post! I have been in Japan for about a month now. (Sorry Kirsten! I should have posted sooner.) However, rather than starting off with details of my trip, I will advise everyone on traveling in general. Maybe "What I should have done instead" or "Things no one told me, but apparently I should have known" would be better titles for this post? Oh well.

Do not:
·         Start packing two days before the trip
·         Buy a phone last minute
(You might be a moron with technology, or your phone company might neglect to tell you that you need to unlock your phone even though your mom informs them that you will be studying abroad in Japan, and they do not offer phone service there. Sounds like something they should mention? I think.)
·         Beg your mom to mail you things immediately
·         Look super stressed out while waiting for your grandfather to join you in the airport
(Side note: Do not let grandfather make you get out of the car and enter airport by yourself. Warning: A security guard might notice how stressed you look and approach to start questioning you.)
·         Plan for phone service, WIFI, etc.
·         Learn common phrases in your respective foreign languages
·         Try to sleep on the airplane if the flight is long
(Even though I find it impossible)
·         Force yourself to interact with people
(For example, Shannon from New York was sitting next to me on the plane. I started a conversation with her and we exchanged contact information to meet up for coffee a week later in Shibuya.)

But, to get to the point, dwelling on past mistakes gets you nowhere.
Always make the most of your trip!

Here's a photo of me looking super awkward with my host mom (Toshiko-san):