Halfway There: What I've Learned From My National Student Exchange

Halfway There: What I've Learned From My National Student Exchange

A once in a lifetime experience I'm glad I've had the opportunity to do.
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I have spent this semester away from my home school thanks to National Student Exchange (NSE). I’ve been able to escape the cold of Massachusetts for sunny Miami, Florida. My journey has taken me to Florida International University (FIU). I went into this semester hoping to try new things, explore places I’ve never been, and learn about a culture completely different than my own. So far, this semester is exceeding my expectations.

My host school has an NSE club that includes members from outside schools that have come for the semester and students from FIU that have gone on exchanges in the past. This group has been amazing at coordinating events (most of them free of charge) for me to partake in. One of my favorites was a meal at the famous Bubba Gump Shrimp Company followed by a bay cruise through the port of Miami and past the homes of the rich and famous. The views are stunning and the homes are breathtaking. Seeing Miami from the water made me fall in love with this city so much more.

My group has also done events on campus such as attending movie nights and football games. It’s great to know I have a group of people I can turn to if I need someone to attend an event with me. The next two months are going to be packed with more events: Jungle Island, snorkeling on Key Largo, a Chainsmokers concert, South Beach trip, and more! Being able to experience all that Miami as to offer in the short time I’m here has made the adventure more than I ever dreamed of.

It’s important to remember that it isn’t all fun and games; you must do well in your classes as well. I decided to venture out and take a science course that they don’t offer at my home school: Ecology of South Florida. I’ve learned about the unique plants and animals that call this area home and have had the chance to go on field trips throughout South Florida. We explored the beaches of Key Biscayne, went snorkeling, and hiked trails in Johnathon Dickinson State Park. Coming up, we’ll be exploring the Everglades and going on a swamp walk through Big Cypress Swamp. These trips are taking me to places I never would’ve gone on my own and I they’re some of the most beautiful places I’ve been.

I’ve been able to practice my Spanish quite often as there is a large Hispanic and Cuban population in Miami. Being a picky eater, I was hesitant to try some of their traditional foods, but pastelitos are my new favorite treat. I’m still getting used to the southern hospitality where everyone goes out of their way to say hello and make you feel welcomed. Many people run on “Cuban time” meaning 15 minutes late is actually on time (this is great for class). It’s amazing to be able to experience a unique culture without having to leave the United States.

If you’re considering doing an exchange, look into National Student Exchange. They have over 200 schools in the United States, Canada, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Guam from which you can choose to visit. Many of the options are more affordable than an international exchange which is why I chose this program. I’ve never felt so welcomed and part of a community like I do at FIU. Deadlines to apply for next year’s programs are coming up soon so start doing your research! I promise you won’t regret it.

Cover Image Credit: Florida International University

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10 Things You Know To Be True If You Live in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn

"Take the B", they said.
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For anyone that is currently living in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn and or has lived there, you know it's an *interesting* experience. From the various food joints, to the movie theater, everyone's love/hate relationship with Crazy George, Emmons Avenue, the B/Q trains, the new apartment complex that some people love and others completely despise, and everything in-between, there's no other neighborhood that's just like Sheepshead. You know you're from Sheepshead when:

1. You've either spotted Crazy George somewhere out on the streets or in a random location (usually in Dunkin' Donuts).


Don't get me wrong — it's not funny that he appears to have problems, but it's also not ideal that he goes into various stores harassing the workers. He's a one of a kind human being and I do wish the best for him and/or that he does get some help.

2. When it comes to Brennan and Carr and Roll n Roaster, you either love one of them much more than the other.

As much as I love Brennan and Carr's Gargiulo burger, I'm more of a Roll n Roaster person. Their personal pizza is nice and their fries are to die for -- and yes, I want cheese on that, please.

3. You either love or hate that new apartment complex that's in the works.

You know, this one at 1501 Voorhies Ave.

4. You've become used to the B and Q trains either being delayed, messed up, crowded, and or nonexistent.

"Take the B they said. It's express they said." If I told you how many times the B has gone local, out of service, and or on fire in Brooklyn, then maybe you'd hate it just as much as I do at times. Don't even get me started about how crowded it is - especially during rush hour.

"What about the Q train?" The Q's not much better. It has its times where it goes express in Brooklyn as opposed to local, which doesn't help if you're getting on/off at Neck Road or Avenue U.

5. You either go to UA Sheepshead, another movie theater or don't even bother with movie theaters.

Although going to UA Sheepshead is convenient, their prices are very special for just an average movie theater.

6. You either stick to shopping and dining along Sheepshead Bay Road and or Emmons Avenue or go elsewhere either in the neighborhood, other neighborhoods, or to the city.

While they're both convenient parts of Sheepshead Bay, there are other parts of the neighborhood to go to, such as Nostrand Ave. Sometimes, it's easier to flock to other parts of Brooklyn, but there are times where going to the city is worth the commute.

7. You either shop at Cherry Hill or avoid it completely.

While there are other supermarkets in the neighborhood, Cherry Hill is the only one on Emmons that is open 24/7. Their prices might be high for the neighborhood, but their prices could be much worse.

8. You remember when Sheepshead Bay High School was one school...

...and not an educational complex.

9. You're still low-key bothered about how the neighborhood recovered after Sandy.

I'm not going to say that it was the same after the hurricane. Although it didn't take the longest time to recover, that doesn't mean that damage wasn't done.

10. But regardless of how you may feel, by the end of the day, you're probably still super in love with the neighborhood.

It's an incredibly unique neighborhood. You can take someone out of Sheepshead but you can't take the Sheepshead out of someone.

Cover Image Credit: Curbed NY

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The 4 Best Travel YouTube Channels That Will Tempt You To Buy A Flight Today

No matter where I am, I find inspiration for travelling and engaging with adventure by watching these 4 YouTube vlogs.

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Do you dream of traveling every waking minute?

If you're like me, travelling to new places makes your soul come alive. So why aren't you traveling right now? School, work, bills, and other commitments pile up and leave us to stay put, even if only for a season.

When I'm between trips I like to stay inspired by watching videos from these YouTube channels. When I am ready to book my next adventure, I dive into these channels for research and tips. No matter where I am geographically, these four channels continue to influence and inspire my life as a globetrotter.

1. DamonAndJo - Hilarious and Trendy

Damon Dominique and Joanna Franco

shutupandgo.travel

Great for: Millennial travelers

Suggested video: Everything We Know About Travelling Cheaply (in 5 Minutes)

Playful and distinctive, DamonAndJo make hilarious videos for the millennial traveler. I encountered their channel during college when I was looking for advice about studying abroad. BFFs Damon Dominique and Joanna Franco met during college in New York City, studied abroad together in Paris, and went on to create a successful Youtube vlog chronicling their adventures. Their channel's motto is simple: "Shut up and go". The pair make travel videos with guests, together, and individually, keeping their content fresh and exciting. If you're looking for a laugh, travel advice, or even fashion and design inspiration (because they moonlight as style gods and trendsetters), then look no further than DamonAndJo.

2. Travellight - Best female solo traveler vlog

Jordan Taylor

travellight.me

Great for: Female solo travelers

Suggested video: Best Way to See the Great Wall!

Jordan Taylor is a female traveler who left the U.S. in 2016 to explore the world and hasn't stopped since. She has been all over Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East since she began her big adventure. I found her channel while researching for my first solo trip. She is a talented videographer and puts serious effort into producing quality visual content. Her videos include stunning landscapes, cities, wildlife, and waters, and she heavily focuses on her personal experiences and impressions traveling solo as a woman. Jordan's cinematography is stunning, but she remains completely honest about her encounters, revealing the good, the bad, and the ugly. Travellight is especially ideal for women considering traveling alone.

3. Gabriel Traveler - Down-to-earth and practical

Gabriel Traveler

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgZM50Ig7STDS0l6f_QnrXw

Great for: Conducting in-depth country research

Suggested video: Travel in Greece on $30/ a Day

Gabriel Morris is a solo male traveler who has traversed the world for over three decades. Who does that? Now middle-aged, Gabe has shown no signs of slowing down and continues to visit countries far and wide, making fascinating videos about the places he visits. I like Gabriel's channels because though he is the most seasoned traveler on this list, he remains humble by sharing his knowledge and expertise while maintaining a learner's mindset in his videos. His channel is simple and his videos straightforward, but content-rich and honest in depicting each destination. Check Gabriel's channel for inspiration and practical information from every continent.

4. Vagabrothers - for an in-depth lesson on history and culture

Marko and Alex

Vagabrothers on Youtube

Great for: Longer videos covering history and culture of destinations

Suggested video: Machu Picchu, The Lost City of the Inca

Brothers Alex and Marko started their YouTube channel in 2013. Since then, they have developed a successful business traveling the world and cataloging each place they visit. Their high-quality videos put PBS travel documentaries to shame. I found the Vagabrothers' channel when I was traveling a backpacking trip across Catalina Island in California.

Their videos dazzled me from the start, and I've watched their videos before every trip I've taken since. Each destination video is dotted with facts about the destination, tips for traveling there, and stories that captivate and inform. For Americans who want to spend more time traveling within their homeland, Vagabrothers is a wonderful resource. They have entire series on U.S. destinations from coast to coast. I recommend this channel to anyone who's looking for information-rich advice on how, when, and where to travel.

YouTube is an incredible way to share knowledge and inspire others to see the world. When you're saving up money and biding time until your next flight or road trip, look to these channels to be educated, entertained, and inspired. I hope you can enjoy the hard work these travel vloggers put into sharing their experiences online as I do.

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