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1.  Overcoming Obstacles to Travel

2.  Teresa: Traveling with Medication

3.  Julie: Career Building Overseas

4  .Steve: Overcoming Travel Stress

5.  Trevor: Challenging Yourself with Study Abroad

6.  Aracely: Using Student Resources for Travel
7.  Niki: Earning Money and Making New Friends Overseas
8.  Delveen: "Teaching" your Parents the Value of Study Abroad
9.  Newsletter Archive





Overcoming Obstacles to Travel

View of San Diego convention center and downtown from across the bayLife in San Diego is somewhat unique in that international experiences can be had without traveling very far. One can also enjoy ocean, mountain, and desert climates all within the same day. It is pretty amazing the diversity of experiences one can have in this region and still be home in time for dinner. Perhaps that is why so many world travelers choose to make San Diego their home base.

This semester, the TRiO Project has chosen world travel as its theme. This can refer to overseas travel Mexico border crossingor exploring North America. Because more academic majors at SDSU are requiring international experiences – and more industries that hire SDSU graduates are going global – our goal this term is to present travel as an opportunity for learning and adventure. The TRiO Project Staff will be available to help project participants navigate opportunities for study abroad and student travel, explore financial aid options, and discuss accessibility issues related to travel.

A traditional desk globeIn the spring 2013 newsletter, we have each shared a little bit about our own travel experiences. We’ll be developing this theme throughout the term through posters, presentations, and handouts in the HTC. We welcome contributions from anyone who would like to share pictures or stories from their own travel experiences.



Teresa: Traveling with Medication

This is the lip of an active volcano crater. The steam is sulfur from the volcano. Masaya Volcano National Park, Masaya, Nicaragua.

Here at SDSU, we have over 20 majors that require an international experience. Students with disabilities want to participate in a study abroad experience but they often have concerns about going overseas. One concern is dealing with medical issues while abroad.  Having a disability is no reason to avoid actively participating in a study abroad program. However, you will need to work with your doctor and maybe a travel clinic on medication and other health concerns before leaving home.

Here are some tips on having a smoother transition to living and studying abroad with health concerns.


If you are going through a medication adjustment, stabilize the medication before going abroad. Traveling can be stressful and you don’t need the added stress of adjusting to a new medication while adapting to a new living and school environment.

Visit the Students Abroad section of the US Department of State website at Once on this website, click on “HEALTH.” This web page talks about items such as medications and vaccines, as well as providing tips on traveling with a disability. Another good US Department of State website is This website talks about country specific child napping on the watermelon patch, Leon, Nicaraguainformation and covers topics such as safety and health information.


This past winter break, my husband and I traveled to Nicaragua. According to this website, Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere and they can only provide basic health care. While we were there we talked to Nicaraguans who told us that for serious illnesses such as heart disease they had to go into Managua for treatment. Additionally, if they had the funds they would either fly to Miami or seek the foreign doctors who visited Managua once or twice a month.


Your preparation should also include visiting the host country’s embassy website to learn more about medication requirements to ensure medications that are legal in the United States are also legal in that country. If you are caught with an illegal drug it can result in a prison sentence.


Check with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention at for health precautions and recommended vaccines for the host country. For example, the CDC website indicated that Nicaragua is having outbreaks of malaria and gave strategies on ways to reduce the risk of acquiring malaria.


Students taking prescription medication need to work with their physician in deciding whether to bring enough medication to get them through the duration of the trip, or fill prescriptions while in the host country. Regardless of the option you choose, always keep the medication in its original container. If you need to fill a prescription while abroad, find out if the host country accepts prescriptions from the United States. If they don’t, you will probably have to see a doctor in the host country for a prescription. If this is the case, bring a letter from home on letterhead that describes the health condition, purpose of the medication, and the equivalent generic medication. Make sure this letter is in both English and the host country language. According to the US Department of State website, Nicaragua conducts all of their medical transactions and record keeping only in Spanish.


Multi-colored world time zone mapLastly, many of our students go to places like Spain and Australia. There is a nine hour time difference between San Diego and Madrid, and a 17 hour time difference between San Diego and Sydney. Most people experience a few days of jetlag until their internal clock adjusts to the new time. However, if you take a medication that needs to be taken at the same time everyday this can be a challenge; we don’t want you to be taking your morning medication at 4 pm. It’s important to meet with your doctor to come up with a plan to help you adjust your medication to the new time zone with the least amount of side effects. Create a chart such as this listing the time differences for each of your travel destinations.

San Diego

7 am

London, UK

3 pm

Madrid, Spain

4 pm

Tokyo, Japan

11 pm

Sydney, Australia

Midnight next day

Teresa and her husband on a beach in Pochomils, Nicaragua

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page. - St. Augustine

Read more than one book by exploring and discovering the world through travel and study abroad. However, be proactive and coordinate your medical needs before leaving home.






Julie: Career Building Overseas

Following the great dotcom bust of 2000, I found myself unemployed amidst a sea of highly qualified and equally as unemployed Silicon ValleyPink graphic of Pink Slip Networking parties workers. For several months in early 2001, there was a somewhat exciting culture of severance pay and pink slip networking parties, in which camaraderie among the unemployed flourished as we all pursued the common goal of finding secure employment in the tech industry. As time passed and that goal became ever more elusive, my funds ran low, while San Francisco rents remained obscenely high.


Very shortly before my Silicon Valley employer shut down operations, I had signed a year lease on a studio apartment, but it eventually became clear that I needed to take my job search to another city. I scoured the Internet job boards daily for opportunities elsewhere, and these four words changed my life: Teach English in Japan. I clicked the link, and six weeks later I was living in suburban Tokyo, teaching business English lessons at Picture of Julie with a statue of Godzilla in downtown Tokyoa train station language school. 


I was able to legally break my apartment lease in San Francisco by showing my landlord my official job offer from overseas. I did need to borrow money for the one-way plane ticket there, after months of scrounging together rent, but once I got to Japan, my financial circumstances improved quickly. My new employer picked me up at the airport upon my arrival and delivered me to my school-sponsored, furnished apartment. Rent and utilities were deducted from my monthly pay, so I had very few start up costs when I arrived in the country. I also had enough left over each month to pay for food, entertainment, and some savings, provided that I adhered to a reasonable budget.


When I first arrived, I didn’t speak a word of Japanese, nor could I read the written language. I discovered in my first couple of days that it is surprisingly easy to shop for food and get directions through pictures, gesturing, and a friendly smile. I spent the first two months in near total immersion, other than my daily English lessons, Picture of noodle shop window featuring plastic bowls of soupand was able to pick up enough of the written language and basic vocabulary to get by on my own.


My original plan was to stay in Japan for one year and return to the U.S., but I ended up staying for four years, taking positions with an English-speaking market research firm and then an American university. There were some sacrifices, certainly. I missed out on attending many weddings and graduations back home. The 16 hour time difference and exorbitant rates made phone calls home infrequent (this was before Skype); but during these years, I spent time on four of Japan’s islands, traveled to Thailand, Hong Kong, and South Korea, and developed my resume, all while earning a paycheck.




Steve: Overcoming Travel Stress

When I think of obstacles to travel, one thing immediately comes to the forefront of my mind:  stress!  I think it started when I was a kid.  We cartoon of family on roadtripfrequently made the 90 mile trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan to see my grandmother, and the night before was always filled with my mother and father bickering back and forth about how much to pack, which other relatives we would visit, and at what exact time we would leave for the trip back home. 


Perhaps this has been imprinted upon me because packing for any trip—no matter the duration or distance—sends me into a stress spiral.  And now that I have my own kids, I have tried to be careful about notpicture of lost mittens hanging on a fence passing this down to them.  But recently, I found myself yelling at my son about his choice of outerwear for our recent trip to Yosemite:  “You cannot wear tennis shoes to go snowshoeing!  Find your boots and make sure they are packed because I am not going to buy you overpriced boots at some roadside stand outside the park!”   Packing for this trip was especially irksome since we had to have all of the heavy winter gear that we only use when venturing into the tundra.  I had to chase down missing mittens and snow boots as well as make sure each child had a minimum of five layers of coordinated clothing for each day. 


And, as usual, once it was all gathered into a stack ready to go into the suitcase, my wife suddenly appeared yosemite in winterand began critiquing my choices:  “Edy needs to wear her new sweater with these pants…Did you pack enough underwear for everyone?...Are these jeans too short for Ethan?”  


Then there were the tire chains.  There was enough snow to require the installation of these medieval torture devices.  Just imagining trying to wrestle these onto the tires on the side of an icy two-lane mountain highway made me tense up.  No matter how much I try to be “Zen” about these things, I can’t.  It wasn’t until we arrived at our destination that I could take off both the figurative and literal chains.  Actually, I had to leave those tire chains on the whole trip.  But I did end up having fun. 





Trevor: Challenge Yourself with Study Abroad

Preparing for travel abroad may appear daunting, perhaps even to the point of dismissal.  There is no denying that there is a lot of paperwork and a vast multitude of options to consider.  However, through careful planning, utilization of campus resources and the advantage of an early start the process can become quite manageable and maybe even enjoyable.  At my undergraduate university, Loyola University Maryland, there were some Picture of mountain tops in Kasai region of Japanindividuals in the study abroad office who as part of their job had to travel around the globe visiting universities that Loyola students attended when they departed for study abroad.  This being the case, many of my questions were able to be answered easily by these university ambassadors without the inconvenience of a long-distance call. 

Many students when considering study abroad are intimidated by foreign languages.  I went to Japan with absolutely no knowledge of Japanese, but I was required to take very extensive classes in Japanese during my stay.  We covered in four months what would normally be taught in two semesters.  These Japanese language classes were held five days a week.  The other courses I took were taught in English and I was able to get some of them to fit within my major.  By the end of my stay, I was quite amazed by how rapidly my Japanese skills ascended.  In retrospect, I can understand why this occurred since learning Japanese was highly incentivized.  In the Kansai district you encountered many people in restaurants and grocery stores who spoke only Japanese.  If I didn't learn Japanese I wasn't going to be able to eat, or least I wouldn't know what I was buying.   I learned this lesson very quickly.  On one of my Picture of ornate temple in Japanfirst days in Japan I went to a restaurant by myself.  I was given a menu with no pictures, so I just pointed to something on one of the pages and hoped for the best.  My waiter looked puzzled.  He went in the kitchen and brought out a giant bottle of sake.  In many instances I would be pleased by this, but this time it was ten in the morning and I'd had no breakfast.  Unless I wanted to live some sort of John Cage inspired, chance-based foreign existence, Japanese proficiency would have to be a must.

The dramatic cultural differences between Japan and the U.S. made all of my excursions, even the most prosaic, incredibly adventurous.  Looking back, I wish I had arranged to stay in Japan two semesters rather than one.  Also, I recommend that you do try to challenge yourself.  I thought I was linguistically challenged before going to Japan, but there I discovered that it was not that I lacked the skill to learn a new language, I had just never really applied myself so diligently and under such perfect language learning conditions.

Picture of beautiful temple in JapanI am a fervent supporter and proponent of studying abroad.  Why this is the case though is rather difficult to explain because the way in which my experiences have worked on my sense of self as related to the world seem to challenge my dexterity with the English language, or rather, are infused with a sort of gravitas that makes it difficult to discern the proper words to describe my experience without sounding trite or delving into an extended analysis far beyond the scope of this short piece.    What I can say though—and I say this grudgingly and with much reluctance for it is on the very edge of that which is hackney and trite, yet somehow close to the truth—is that if you choose your country of study wisely, the experience will do much to enhance your character and knowledge.  You'll also come back with many amusing stories and some lifelong friends.





Aracely: Using Student Resources for Travel

In 2009, my little brother Gabriel made the decision to study abroad in Singapore for a whole year. When he returned from his journey, he was a Signs to many foreign destinations for student traveldifferent person, in fact he was finally mature. I enjoyed hearing his stories about jungles in Vietnam and falling in love in Singapore.  Gabriel’s life abroad seemed more interesting than the most interesting man in the world from Dos Equis. I knew I wanted that same adventure but I was afraid of the process.

I finally graduated from SDSU and got my first “real” job, but this "real world" experience was not much fun; I missed my college days. To improve my career chances, I returned to SDSU for graduate school. Instead of trying to relive my old undergraduate days, though, I felt a yearning for something new. I wanted an adventure!  All my life, I have wanted to visit Ireland, but I never thought I'd have enough money saved up to go. Afterall, being in college means being students standing in front of Dublin youth hostelbroke. Another issue was finding a travel partner; surely I cannot go alone. I mean, I could be robbed or kidnapped, right? One day, while working at my campus job encouraging other students to follow their dreams, I realized that I was sick of living in fear and not following my own dreams. I made the initial step to go to the student travel agency (STA), which is located just off campus on College Ave. The staff was welcoming and explained that STA gives lower prices to students. Next thing I knew, I was handing over my credit card to buy myself a ticket to Ireland.

sheeps grazing along green Irish coastI never truly understood buyer’s remorse until that day. I was feeling overwhelmed with school and now paying for Ireland. I learned that paying for this expense is a lot like eating an elephant; you have to take one bite at time. Sure, it is overwhelming but paying for this trip can be done in small increments. STA helps in finding affordable hostels and hotels. The best part about working with STA is the travel agents were once broke college students who traveled themselves. If you are thinking about traveling, STA agents have been everywhere and know how to travel. This is better than just booking online.

I have not left to Ireland yet but I feel like I’ve overcome an obstacle by just letting go and following my dream to travel. I am excited for this trip and I know there will be more obstacles to face when I get to Ireland but it is great knowing that the hardest part is already be paid for. All I need now is the luck of the Irish!
[Editor's note: As we go to press, the intrepid Aracely is currently traveling around Ireland on her own.]



Niki: Earning Money and Making New Friends Overseas

The decision to work abroad wasn’t difficult. Throughout my years of schooling, I had many international friends and acquaintances from at least 30 different countries. I always had a desire to travel. My Korean friends pushed me to go to Korea because I was adopted from that country and knew little about Koreans beyond their kimchi eating obsessions. During undergrad, I rejected an offer to study abroad in Mexico. I received a Neon lights in Seoul nightlife districtpartial scholarship, but feared not being able to pay back the loan necessary for my living and travel expenses. I was also not keen on living in a community that may be less clean than comfort allowed and risk exacerbating already existing conditions. I regretted the decision not to go big time! I vowed that I would not live in fear again. I would overcome it. Upon graduation and speaking to my friends abroad, I had an intense itch for travel and novelty. So, after a year of volunteering my way into no jobs, I packed my bags and went to Korea. 


I chose to go abroad to South Korea for many reasons both personal and professional. I was successful in that I was able to pursue some of my volunteer and humanitarian interests while holding a role for a chapter of a well-known grass roots nonprofit organization based in the United States.  In order to do some of the non work related activities, I had to find a small source of People sleeping on a wooden floor in a Korean bath houseincome that provided living expenses. The easiest way to do this was to get a job. Fortunately, I was able to find a program that helped me reach a lot of personal goals and make many new friends.  I opted for a government teaching position.


A large goal of the program I joined was for students to not only teach but to learn. You may fear traveling to a foreign country alone. However, there are lots of opportunities to meet people during travels. Once being thrown into an orientation of several hundred participants, making friends and exploring while facing challenges together as a group, you learn a lot and make friends fast.  On my journeys abroad, I made lifelong friends from other countries and cities here in the US.  I still have the opportunity to travel locally and meet these friends throughout the year.


Outside of work, I had the freedKorean mealom to volunteer, pursue humanitarian interests, take classes, sightsee in my local area and travel on the weekend with newfound friends. We ate often. We swapped stories. Most of my learning occurred while interacting with the locals in my community, meeting college students and going out to eat.  Through immersion, I gained valuable insight into the language and behaviors, especially because the interactions among friends or younger and older individuals are different.


Going abroad gave me the privilege to explore the world, learn about a new culture, and develop a stronger sense of self. I jumped in, all fears removed. I arrived in Korea with barely $200 in my bank account. The suggested amount was $700 to $800 for the first three weeks.  It was doable, but I had to live frugally.  Thankfully they provided free housing. Many individuals left Korea with little savings because our jobs weren’t high paying and there was too much fun to be had, but many others were able to send money home to pay for tuition. I also got over my germaphobic tendencies among Korean friends. We ate out of the same soup bowls and often shared the same cups. Most restaurants do not have the same cleanliness standards or food regulations as the United States.  By living overseas, I overcame obstacles, fears and behavioral tendencies that I would not have faced in the comfort of home in America. It can be done.


Delveen: "Teaching" your parents the value of studying abroad


Temple in ThailandMy sister, Parwin, and I graduated in the spring of 2012. We both were in the college of social work. Social work students are required to participate in study abroad as part of earning their degrees, and we chose to travel on the school led trip to Thailand with a group of classmates.

My sister and I spoke to our parents letting them know it is mandatory for us to study abroad. Initially, our parents Delveen riding an elephant through a river in Thailandwere hesitant and they denied us permisison to go. Our parents were afraid for our safety. We decided to have them speak with the study abroad adviser. 

The most logical person to refer your parents to for more information is your study abroad adviser. Your adviser has almost certainly spoken to other concerned parents and knows what information will be helpful to them in making an informed decision about the benefits and realities of studying abroad.

Delveen at a river in ThailandYour adviser can help dispel any misconceptions that your parents may have. Additionally, the adviser can help you can share with your parents the tremendous potential for learning and growth that study abroad offers. I've put together some of the tips and resources offered by my advisor that helped smooth the planning process and made my family feel more secure about our travel.



Emergency Contacts:

Create Three copies of your Emergency Contact information:

First Copy: Yours to Keep. Second Copy: For your parents. Third Copy: For your Adviser.


Your Name:   

Your Passport Number:

Date Issued:

Place Issued:

Expiration Date:  

Name of Insurance Provider:

Insurance Policy #:          

Primary Contact


Relationship to You:

Phone Numbers     Home:   Cell:         Work:

Email Address:                                                     

Home Address: 

Secondary Contact     


Relationship to You:

Phone Numbers;     Home:     Cell:     Work:                     

Email Address:                                                  

Home Address: 


Other helpful resources:

Passport: Make sure your passport is up to date.

Associated Students Scholarship: Receive about $1000. For additional information, visit:

Immunization: Most guide books suggest Hepatitis A & B, & Typhus. Student health Services has a Travel Clinic that will assist you.



Archived Newsletters

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Fall 2012

Spring 2012

Fall 2011

Spring 2011

Fall 2010

Spring 2010

Fall 2009

Spring 2009

Fall 2008