Countdown to Brussels


So I’ve never blogged before but I thought this was a great opportunity as I am only doing a short intersession study abroad. So let me introduce myself my name is Danielle I’m a Junior at Suny New Paltz, working on my Accounting BS. I am what is termed a non-traditional adult returning learner. This basically means I’m older than 24 and have previously been to school left but now I’m back again. Which also means I work a full time job so a full semester study abroad would have been a life changing ie. quit my job decision. This is why the offered two weeks three credits through Suny New Paltz is so nice I can just take vacation time from work and be able to have a mini study abroad experience.

Being a Business major you may ask why are you on a Poli Sci Study Abroad trip? Well I have a Poli Sci minor which this three credit study mission will take care of some of those required upper division credits, I love to travel and I find Politics and all the different version of government out there fascinating.

So my study abroad trip is for two weeks the first week being the Model European Union Simulation portion. We’ve been assigned alter egos, I am the Finance Minister for Belgium. We’ve been set agenda items to discuss and debate and hopefully come to some resolution that can be approved by all 28 member states.

I’m pretty much all packed and ready to go. That was an adventure in and of itself. Only going to be gone for two weeks but do to some issues abroad they moved our hostel to a hotel. Which is a nice upgrade in a lot of ways but one of the things I was counting on was being able to do laundry which I don’t know what the availability will be at the hotel and if it’s a costly service etc. Therefore I went from a small suitcase to a medium/large suitcase. Hopefully I’m under the 50lb limit and won’t have to reorganize at the airport.

Well that’s all for now early to rise tomorrow and I will be taking a flight at 6:15 out of JFK.

Two free checked suitcases, yes please!

The one week mark approaches.

I was talking about studying abroad with my brother the other day on our drive to the post office (because no one can physically reach my mailbox with all this snow) to pick up my visa and other various forms of junk mail. If you had asked me months ago how I felt about studying abroad, I would have told you, “Shush, it’s not happening yet. I’ve got months. Calm down.”

Well, now I have almost a week left.

All my documents are in order. And the visa for Japan is gorgeous, it is pretty in pink with cherry blossoms making me long for spring & to go and see and take all the pictures of 花見 hanami (which translates to flower viewing)! I called up Bank of America to let them know that I will be out of the country so they don’t shut off the money flow thinking there is fraudulent activity afoot. Went to the doctors & dentist. Shopping for essentials like clothes and hygiene products and plug adapters. The essentials.

Took a trip up to New Paltz, saw friends before I left. Had a family dinner and said my goodbyes for five months.

New Paltz Reunion!

Surreal? Yes, sir.

Pressed for time? Hell yeah.

I am trying to shovel work (and snow), reading, language studies, and all the sleep that I can get into a short amount of days. And it’s kind of freaking me out. In a good way. But my stomach flip-flops when I think about getting on that 14 hour plane ride next week. Work does wonders in keeping me preoccupied and help feed the “Courtney Needs Money for Travel (and Food)” fund.

I have everything all booked with Japan Airlines, and this is my first international flight (2nd plane ride in my entire life). One of the things that is different from other study abroad experiences, is that Meiji does not send anyone to pick you up from the airport and show you where you are going to live for the next 5 months. Real life just hits you in the face once you touch down in Tokyo, Japan. But luckily, my dad and brother are taking the trip with me and staying in Shinjuku for a week. So I won’t get lost alone, at least.

Through Japan Airlines, I get two free checked bags and a free carry-on. Which is great because I have clothes galore to bring, and it gives me enough storage space for bringing back souvenirs and gifts and even more clothes that I buy throughout the duration of my trip! So A+ to Japan Airlines for being so awesome!

And another added bonus with JAL: Not only is alcohol served, it is free! 

Now I am left to count the days with that nervous/excited feeling taking root in my stomach for another week. It’s worth every moment. More pictures to come prior to departure~!

“Your UK Visa Has Been Issued”

This is possibly the most glorious phrase I’ve ever heard (read). I don’t think it’s possible to describe in words the process I (and my wonderfully helpful father) have gone through in the past few months, mostly weeks, in order to procure this one single, but apparently eminently important, piece of paper. My first piece of advice to anyone planning on studying abroad is to understand the visa application process well enough that you’d be able to explain it, step-by-step, to someone else. My second piece of advice is START YOUR APPLICATION EARLY! Like, many months in advance. This will allow enough time for the many corrections you’re likely going to have to make.

*Anyway*, now that that’s finally taken care of just a mere twelve days before I leave for Huddersfield, I can finally relax and look forward to my trip instead of dread the possibility that it might not happen. The crazy part to me about my upcoming semester abroad is that I really don’t know what to expect. Since this is the first time in many years that New Paltz and Huddersfield are doing an exchange, both the students at the schools and the staff in the international offices don’t have as much knowledge on the programs as they would were they regular, semesterly exchanges. This is both exciting and somewhat anxiety-provoking. I know very little about University of Huddersfield itself, like what the vibe on campus tends to be, what the students are generally interested in, if the professors teach class (which I hear is sometimes optional??) with their underwear on their heads, etc. What I do know is that I’ll be taking mostly psychology classes in addition to one class on British culture, and that I’ll be living in a campus-owned flat with five other international students, including one from New Paltz, which is a converted insane asylum. At relaying this piece of information to my mother, I was given the response “Oh good, so you’ll feel right at home!” She just may be right.

Regardless of knowing or not knowing what to expect, I do know that this has literally been the longest summer of my life—mid/late May-early/mid September—and I am ready to leave it behind. Though it had its definite good, even great, times, my summer was also filled with a lot of stress, getting my heart broken by someone I really cared about, working a much less than thrilling job at Connecticut Muffin (this should be self-explanatory), a somewhat scary visit to New Paltz this past week, and generally not feeling like I did anything terribly productive. I am definitely ready to see what Huddersfield has to offer me.