Hannah Morris International Education

Hannah Marie Morris: A Study Abroad Consultant In The Truest Form

Hannah Marie Morris Study Abroad Smarter

"Studying abroad really educates the world."Hannah Marie Morris, P.h.D.

Hannah Marie Morris Around The World

Study abroad consultant Hannah Morris is a true global education pioneer.

Through her non-profit, Intercultural Transitions, she is improving international education by making the transition for international students smoother when they arrive at their host school.

Hannah also provides counseling for students and their families to help the transition of both high school to college, and for study abroad students planning their trip through her consultancy, hannahmariemorris.com.

I have never met someone so in touch with the current pulse of global education.

Tune into this episode if you need a little push in order to pull the trigger. There are also some good anecdotes and book recommendations plus she's doing the interview from the Sudan!

"I haven’t been everywhere, but it is on my list.” — Susan Sontag

Hannah’s book recommendations:

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Where In The World is Study Abroad Consultant Hannah Morris? [Infographic]

A color coded map of everywhere Hannah Morris has worked.


Chris: Welcome everyone to the Study Abroadcast. I’ve got a very special treat today with Dr. Hannah Marie Morris of hannahmariemorris.com. Dr. Morris, welcome to the Study Abroadcast. How are you doing today?

Dr. Morris: Hi, I’m doing great. Thanks for inviting me.

Chris: Thanks for being here. Dr. Morris has extensive international experience. She probably embodies what study abroad is in terms of the people I’ve found and I’m going to turn it over to her because, as far as this interview goes, more of her and less of me is probably better. She’s got a lot more experience, probably more than most. So Dr. Morris, again, thank you for being here. And, by the way, if you want to learn more about her - and I’ll talk about this at the end of the interview - you can go to her website, hannahmariemorris.com, to learn more about her and what she does. So Dr. Morris, could you maybe start by telling us a little bit about your background and how you got into study abroad.

`Dr. Morris: Yes, of course. I was the child of a third culture kid and my mother loved to travel so I was raised with these amazing stories about living in the Philippines and living in Germany, and I lived on military bases in the continental United States. So I always wanted to go out and see more. Not that we don’t have a beautiful country, but I wanted to see something that was different, have different languages, and so when I was in high school, I signed my family up to host an exchange student. And then I was able to be an exchange student myself, to Cognac, France, while I was in high school and I actually helped plan that trip. There were nine of us together that just made our own thing. We pitched it to our parents and they said sure, go buy flights to France. So since then, I just loved to study abroad. I got involved with our exchange student organization in university right away. Through that, we hosted students and kind of did everything that was non-academic for them. Obviously, the international center would help do the F-1 visas, but we helped them with everything from housing to understanding American culture. We took them to all the football games and the fun parties. Just let them understand what it was like to be a student. I studied abroad then, in Rouen, France, and then Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and by then, if you can’t tell, I was hooked. And so for the past decade, I have been focused on making sure that we open more pathways to more places in the world to more types of students, supporting students of all walks of life, all interests just to make sure that we continue this cross-cultural engagement and education.

Chris: You mentioned the word “hooked” and you’re really lucky, especially so early in your career, or even when you were in school, to find something that you’re so passionate about. And I guess the feather in your cap is that you get to travel. I was listening to Trevor Noah and he said, “You can’t waste your money on travel. You can waste your money on a lot of things, but travel is one thing that you can’t.” So you’ve kind of got the best of both worlds.

Dr. Morris: That’s a funny thing to say because we just are booking flights next month to Addis Ababa which I assumed would be very cheap from Sudan, and it’s not. And I literally said that last night where I was like oooh, are we really wasting money? This is going to be a good experience anyhow. But it was funny that you said that.

Chris: Right. So talk a little bit more about, so you had all this experience, especially in school, and you started in high school. And you evolved through to college and, like we said, you morphed it into a career. Talk to us a little more about hannahmariemorris.com and your consultancy which you’re working on now.

Dr. Morris: Of course. So, I started a non-profit called Intercultural Transitions with a colleague and a great friend of mine, Megan Norton, and she herself was a third culture kid. I want to say she’s probably lived in ten countries at this point, but it’s really hard to keep track with her so let’s just guess it’s that. What we did is we came together and we realized that there are so many students around the world that are continually moving and they’re crossing cultures. But not all universities, not all international schools, not all high schools are prepared to really accept that and help these students with transitioning. I know you were a study abroad student yourself, Chris. You probably had great support at your university that said this is what it’s going to be like. It’s going to be a different culture. And when you got there, they said welcome, here’s this new culture. And so what we do is we work with institutions to help them develop that programming for kind of the non-traditional style study abroad opportunities, or even when it looks like they might be a domestic student but they actually need that study abroad support, or they need that cultural transition support. So that’s what we do. It’s lots of fun. It means a lot of traveling, working with advisors and counselors across the world just to make sure we have people supported.

Chris: Ok, I was reading about it and that really sums it up. So you’re not going to London, England, where they’re probably already set up for things like that. But, for example, I studied abroad in Buenos Aires and the transition for students coming there and studying at those schools is out. Is that right?

Dr. Morris: Yes and no. Actually, I worked in London earlier this year because the thing that we forget is that we only often think about students as study abroad or foreign if they need that passport. So what do you do? Let’s say, Chris, you have a U.S. passport, correct?

Chris: Yes.

Dr. Morris: But let’s say you were born in Japan and raised in Korea your whole life.

Chris: Ok.

Dr. Morris: When you go to the United States, do you think that they would give you any orientation support?

Chris: Probably not.

Dr. Morris: Right, exactly. But you’d probably need it, right, because while English might be your mother tongue - I wouldn’t know - you might need to understand how are classes held in the United State, what is insurance and how do I make sure I’m using it properly, right. There’s all those little things that a lot of students actually fall through the cracks with. So I do help students, obviously, in places all around the world. But the United States and the UK are actually two markets that also are missing students and not always supporting them the way they need to be supported. So it’s really important that everyone kind of steps back and says are we really helping all the students or just the ones that we know to look for.

Chris: Oh, so that’s perfect. You literally probably have an endless amount of places you can go to help set this up. Am I right? I mean there’s always something that can be improved and there’s always transitions that need to be bettered.

Dr. Morris: Exactly, exactly. And I think that’s a really great way to say it because I was just in a meeting a few weeks ago and they’re finding that with the new generation of students coming in, international families are able to potentially come along with their students, right, so for a lot of students you might go to study abroad alone. But what happens when parents come to help with that move-in, right, the way you were moved in your first day of class.

Chris: Exactly, yes.

Dr. Morris: It’s on the university to make sure that they’re culturally sensitive and appropriate to a culture that may have only one child and that might be an important part of that culture, making sure that the parents know what their role is and how they can be supportive. So it’s an industry that’s always evolving. We’re always striving to be better. It’s why I love education.

Chris: Right, and I didn’t say this at the beginning of the interview, but Dr. Morris is actually in The Sudan right now.

Dr. Morris: Yes.

Chris: That’s pretty cool. She’s our first international - I’m in the United States - and she is our first global interview. I hope to have much more of these, but thank you for being the trendsetter here.

Dr. Morris: Happy to help!

Chris: All right, as someone so well versed in the area of international education, we know that only ten percent of students study abroad. What would you tell someone who’s on the bubble about study abroad and they’re just thinking well, no, it’s not worth it. Why should I study abroad? What would you tell a student? What would be your advice?

Dr. Morris: I think a lot of students, when they think of study abroad, they think of that semester in Europe and they say, well, that’s not for me. And what I’d like to remind students is that you can study abroad pretty much anywhere. I tell students: you can’t afford that passport yet, go to Puerto Rico. You’ll still have an intercultural exchange, you’re still getting on that plane, you’re still learning in a different language. You know, you don’t have to go and do what the traditional is. There’s somewhere in the world that you’ve never been where you’re going to learn and experience and gain perspective on yourself and the world around you. So I tell those students, yeah, you’re right, maybe you don’t need to go to that place a lot of your classmates or friends are going. But let’s try to find a place that has everything that you’re interested in and will help you learn more about yourself and the world around you.

Chris: I tell people - and I’ve written about this - it’s infinitely more costly not to go as far as the longevity after you graduate and whether or not you’re going to go to graduate school, or getting a job. It’s more costly to not study abroad than it is, I think, in the long term.

Dr. Morris: Oh absolutely. You probably talk about it all the time, but the skills that you can actively cultivate on a study abroad, skills such as learning how to navigate new environments and new language skills and just being in a diverse group of people who don’t see things the same way you do, are valued by so many companies around the world. I know. I meet in my life, because I live abroad for a lot of it, I meet lot of people who work for corporations or international schools and their stories all started in an educational study abroad, too. So it’s amazing the doors that’ll open and the friends that you’ll have for the rest of your life because you took this chance to open your experiences and open your life.

Chris: I know. Social media has changed so many things so it’s nice to be able to go on your trip and then you meet these people from all walks of life, all over the world. Then you’ve kind of got them and get to check up with them and that’s forever. You’ve made that connection for the rest of your life. That’s really cool and it’s something that students that don’t study abroad don’t get to have. So it’s perfect.

Dr. Morris: We just had this conversation. I was meeting with some people from the government and they were saying how many leaders of foreign countries, and the United States, how many world leaders studied abroad. And how important international education is and that we need to keep promoting this because that’s how they’re able to go and have these summits and meet with people that are different from them, right. Because they’ve been there. They’ve done these international exchanges. Study abroad really does educate the world.

Chris: Well put, Dr. Morris. Study abroad educates the world.

Dr. Morris: By the way, you can all me Hannah. I forgot to tell you that in the beginning.

Chris: All right. Well, very well put, Hannah. Thank you. Now could you share with us maybe an epic travel story or something that you’d tell at a dinner party.

Dr. Morris: Something I tell at a dinner party, but I very rarely tell a group of students that I’m taking abroad because I might disown them if they did this. When I was studying abroad in the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, my friends and I decided, on a whim, to go see Victoria Falls which sounded a lot easier to get to, but it actually included a two-day train, almost being denied a border crossing, having to take multiple buses that broke down, staying a night in Lusaka - I mean everything that you could imagine. We were like a confederacy of dunces. We were not planned at all and we somehow made it. Making it to Victoria Falls, you see this beautiful natural landmark of the world that is revered by the local people to that area. I’d butcher the name if I would say it in it’s local language, but it really is this gorgeous waterfall. And then, of course, we hitchhiked on our way back to Lusaka, somehow got another bus, then got a train, almost got kicked off a train again, made it back into Dar es Salaam. We still joke today that some of those experiences that we had where we didn’t plan it out - you know Zambia is a very safe country - we really were able to experience the kindness of humans, learn that life actually happens whether or not you’re planning it out. So go out and kind of have fun. Go do some of those crazy things. Please don’t do what I did. It was not the smartest, but at the end of the day, it really helped me embrace that the world is nowhere near as scary as people say it is.

Chris: No, it’s not. It’s a fallacy that people think this. That’s another reason why people don’t go. But that story gives the idea that the journey is just as important as the destination, and had everything gone smoothly, you wouldn’t have remembered it as well. Now you’ve got this story to tell so it worked out great.

Dr. Morris: Absolutely, and my mom doesn’t know the whole story yet so sorry, Mom!

Chris: Well, maybe she’ll listen to the podcast and she’ll get educated on the story.

Dr. Morris: She’ll have some questions.

Chris: Moving on, what would be a book recommendation that you could give?

Dr. Morris: I usually give two, and I’ll go through them quickly. I’m just going to start this over - sorry. I usually give two recommendations and they each come from one of my study abroads. The first one was the book, The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova and it’s about travelling through the middle east and Europe through multiple generations, multiple time periods. If you love to travel and you have a sense of adventure, it’s a beautiful story to follow. And then while I was living in Dar es Salaam, I read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. That book just beautifully depicts the disastrous repercussions of colonialism and where arrogance and prejudice can lead, especially when you’re entering a new culture in a new country. I just really appreciated that book because it helped me remember to be humble and to go into a new country or culture and say ok, I’m here to learn, what’s next?

Chris: Right. I’ll have to check those out and I’ll definitely link them with the post. Now, getting into my favorite part of international travel is food. What is your favorite dish from abroad that you can remember and I know that’s kind of a loaded question given everywhere that you've been. So feel free to say more than one. And what favorite do you miss from back home? What do you like when you come back home?

Hannah: I had the pleasure of living and working in Chengdu, China, which is the capital of the Sichuan province and that, in my opinion, is the culinary capital of China - by far the best food in the world. People think of Sichuan and think only of spicy, but really you need to think flavorful. We joke that the food of Sichuan dances on your tongue. You have sweet and salty and sour and everything. People might know Kung Pao chicken, this is the real deal. This is real hot, hot. We have a great little restaurant her in Khartoum that I finally found run by people from Chengdu and I’m so excited. So that is what I miss from my travels. And while I am abroad, I very much miss fruits and vegetables native to North America, such as the sweet potato, squashes and all of our colorful berries. You can’t replace those. They don’t travel well and so that is what I miss whenever I think of if. Like now.

Chris: I know. You take for granted when you’re living in these places that you can just walk out and go a block away and get something that you now miss. My thing when I studied abroad in Buenos Aires was empanadas. That’s what they’re known for. I’d just go out and there’s a local shop that sells them and now you can’t get them anywhere.,

Hannah: It’s a little packet of happiness. I love a good empanada. You’ve got to go down to Florida. We have them in Florida now.

Chris: Actually, my dad lives in Florida, so I will keep that in mind. Piggybacking on the food, when you go to a bar, you’d order what?

Hannah: I always go for the local beer. Local beer is what you’ve got to do. One, we know it’s safe to drink. It’s going to be much safer than any water source in a lot of parts of the country. If you can get it cold, that’s even better. And there’s just something great about having a nice cold beer, laughing with some stranger, often when you don’t even share a language. I also always try to encourage students to not drink too much when they’re abroad, especially in a new environment. The nice thing about a local beer is it’s probably going to be on a lower percentage as long as you’re outside of central Europe. So it’s a nice way to stay safe, have a great conversation and still have a refreshing moment.

Chris: I know. It’s interesting, as with food - well, food and drink - how it varies and it’s different in every part of the world, as to the quantity, the time that it takes, everything.

Hannah: Oh absolutely.

Chris: It’s actually part of the experience and you morph into that. You adapt to the culture when you’re there and then when you leave and go back home, or somewhere else, it’s completely different again and you’ve got to go back to what you started with.

Hannah: I always joke that the French ruined my palate for wine because now I have such high expectation after living in France. I was actually just in France last month and I totally understand because you get used to something that tastes so divine and when you don’t have it any more, it will always be missed.

Chris: Right. Good. I want to go out right now and get something and I don’t know what to get. There’s nothing. So I’m kind of jealous of you getting to travel to all these places.

Hannah: Well, you’ll have to book a new flight soon.

Chris: I know. I will. I’m planning on it actually. Finally, what’s a quote you’d like to leave us with.

Hannah: The background or the wallpaper to my computer is a quote this is attributed to Susan Sontag. Now that I say this, I’m not sure if it’s her. I’ll have to actually google that. It says, “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.“

Chris: That’s a lot of places to go, too.

Hannah: I’ll keep trying.

Chris: Honestly, if anyone could get there, it’s you. You guys have to get on hannahmariemorris.com. You’ve got to see everywhere she’s been. Ok, that is all I have. Is there anything you’d like to add, or did we pretty much cover everything?

Hannah: No, I think it’s wonderful that you’re starting to highlight how fascinating and accessible study abroad can be, and I hope that you keep finding ways to bring more diverse topics. I know I have a pretty typical story when you think of study abroad and my background, but I hope to keep listening to your stories and hearing who else is going to be coming along.

Chris: Right. Study Abroadcast is really simple, but I think I may have told you the first time we had this conversation, there’s an infinite amount of blogs, travel blogs and people recollecting their adventures of study abroad. But there’s nothing really in the audio format that focuses on it. So I’m really excited about the project. All right, I think that does it. Hannah, thank you very much for being here. You can find out more about Hannah again on hannahmariemorris.com. I’m on social media and I’m on Studyabroadsmarter.com, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat (when I have time) and Instagram. So thank you very much, Hannah, and we will talk to you soon.

Hannah: Sounds good. Have a great day - bye!



Americans Try Sichuan Food Video

How Johannes Schmied of UW - Oshkosh Blends in With His Environment

“Anything that’s local is something that I will try and mimic and blend in in order to learn more about a culture.” — Johannes Schmied 🦘

Johannes in the United States

Johannes Schmied is originally from Austria and decided to make a career out of studying abroad after his first trip to the United States at the age of 25.

As the Immigration Compliance and IEM Coordinator at UW—Oshkosh,
Johannes works with students who want to study in the United States without the high ticket price tag associated more urban environments.

If you peruse the infographic you will see that UW - Oshkosh is the perfect environment for an international student looking to save a few pennies.

In this interview we discuss minimalism, adapting to your surroundings, and international admissions.

“Collect moments, not things.” — Dany Dover

Johanne’s book recommendation:

The Minimalist Mindset by Danny Dover

Learn more about University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh in the links below:

Full Interview Transcript

Johannes Schmied
University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh

Chris: Hello, everyone. This is Chris again. Welcome to another episode of the Study Abroadcast. I’m here with Johannes Schmied who does study abroad for the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh, and who is actually from Austria and has quite a bit of experience. So, Johannes, welcome to the show. Thank you for being here. I was wondering if you could just maybe give a little bit of your background and what brought you here today, what got you into study abroad and why you kept doing it. And we’ll go from there.

Johannes: Sounds good, Chris. As you said, my name is Johannes and I’m originally from Austria. I studied abroad in the United States quite a while ago while I was a college student back in my home country. I was just studying for one year abroad and I really liked everything about my time being abroad. It changed my career focus quite a bit so once I graduated, I moved to the United States. I started working with international students and I’m actually helping international students coming to America. That’s my passion, supporting international students studying abroad in the United States. But students can go studying abroad in any country and, to me, this has changed my whole life. That’s why I’m really passionate about talking about studying abroad.

Chris: How old were you when you first left, when you did your first trip from Austria?

Johannes: I was 25 when I was studying abroad in America, but most students might be much younger, especially Americans. When they study abroad, they go as freshmen or sophomores. There are quite a few students who study abroad during high school so any age is essentially possible. The younger the better I would say just because it’s easier to pick up a language if you’re younger.

Chris: Ok, and maybe talk a little bit about the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh. How did you land there and if I was a student living abroad, why would I come to the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh? What’s good about that school?

Johannes: Ok, our university has quite a few majors and we have international students from all across the world. And those students who come to us, they want to live in a smaller town, not big as like Chicago or east of west coast expensive cities. Our city is only 60,000 people and our university has just over 10,000 students. We have quite a few programs that are quite prestigious. For example, our nursing program is very well known in Wisconsin and the students who graduate from here are very likely to have a job right away when they graduate. Our MBA program, our masters program in business, is something that international students are seeking out, but also the undergraduate programs on the business side. All of this can be found on our web page. You just look for the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh and if international students are interested in studying abroad for a semester, a year, or a full degree in America, or at any specific university, they just have to look for the international office or an email that guides them on what they need to do to apply to a university or to our specific university. Just look for admissions to any specific university. Every university has specific criteria they need to fulfill so that you can study abroad or study at the specific school.

Chris: So it’s up to the student to contact you and make sure they’re admitted, right.

Johannes: Yeah and there are many ways how universities reach out to students, as well. Sometimes, we get tours to our campus, groups from Germany, groups from China, groups from South Korea to get to know our campus. But then there are also international recruiters who go to any country in the world to meet up with students in their home country. You can go to a study abroad fair in your home country and meet with international admissions folks from a variety of universities from a variety of countries. I would think that most countries have some kind of study abroad fair in their home country and those are often organized by private companies. So it’s one major way how international students come to a different country, just going to a study abroad fair. Nowadays, it’s also often word of mouth. We have a university student from Pakistan here and he tells his family and his friends back home this is a great place, come here. Then he shares our email, how students could contact us to go through the process of getting admitted to our university. Once students are admitted to the university, the next step would be what they need in order to get their visa to enter the country the student is admitted to.

Chris: Right. And so once they’re admitted I always like to talk about, to ask everyone if there’s some different little piece of advice as far as scholarships go and funding the study abroad. You’re obviously going to want to apply for scholarships when you do this process. What would you tell a student when they’re filling out their application or their essay for studying abroad? What would you talk about in your essay that may separate you from everyone else so you can get scholarships to study abroad?

Johannes: That depends completely on the scholarship the student is applying to. I can only refer to the scholarship our university is offering to international students. They have to complete an essay explaining why they would want to study abroad, what impacts they plan to make when they return home. So every essay might be a little different. I might not be the best person to talk generally about how to apply for scholarships. There are many places that students can apply, but you might need to talk to an expert about scholarships. Every university has some scholarships - at least that’s my assumption - and there might be different criteria for different scholarships you apply for. You might have to write several essays.

Chris: Right. What would you tell a student who’s sitting in your office and they’re on the bubble about studying abroad - I don’t really know if I should do it. We could sit and talk probably an hour about why you should do it, but what’s the reason? Is it to put on your resume, or is it for the experience, is it for the memories? What would you tell a student? What’s your number one reason why someone should study abroad?

Johannes: My personal reason was just I wanted to challenge myself, to improve my foreign language skills. I didn’t speak good English at that point when I applied to study abroad. So this was my personal reason - I wanted to challenge myself. But now that I look back at my study abroad experience and talk to other colleagues, studying abroad is spending a significant amount of time abroad. It’s just the best kind of education because you live in another country and you’re just immersed in a new environment where you have to kind of struggle through. Every day is so exciting because there are so many new things going on that you will never have problems falling asleep because you will always be so tired. And you’ll be all excited for the next day. It’s really a humbling experience to study abroad and spend a few weeks, or a few months, or a few years in a different country. It’s just a lifetime experience and I have not met students who didn’t want to talk about their experience afterward. It’s just something that really broadens one’s horizons to the world, especially to Americans. It’s such a big country, the United States, so sometimes it feels like it isn’t even necessary to go outside to see the world. But, there’s so much more to the world than the United States so I encourage anybody to spend time abroad, doesn’t matter what country you’re from. And if you look into scholarships early enough, it wouldn’t necessarily have to cost more than studying in your home country.

Chris: That’s a good answer. So now I’ve got a few rapid fire questions for you and if you get stuck on them, don’t worry. We can come back to them. You’re obviously very well travelled. Is there one epic travel story you can tell us - maybe something you’d tell at a dinner party, something funny about your travel experiences?

Johannes: There are funny stories and then there are stories of being out of your comfort zone. I’d like to share those because those are the ones I remember best.

Chris: Yes, by all means.

Johannes: There was one time when I was studying in my home country and one of my friends from Slovenia called me up and said, “I’m going in two days to Tunisia. Can you come along? The flight will be cheap.” I had nothing really going on because of the summer so I decided, yes, I’ll come along and I found myself in a country I had never been to. I had not researched much about it, I realized I don’t speak Arabic, I realized I also don’t speak French which was the second language there and I was dependent on two people. One was one of my best friends who spoke Slovenian and a bit of German and English, and the other person I didn’t know at all and he only spoke some English and I spoke some English. We were just traveling through Tunisia for one week on backpacks and there were times where I was completely on my own then because they would either go to bed or would be just talking to each other in their mother language which was Slovenian. It was something I had never experienced before and it was really interesting getting to meet the people from Tunisia, getting invited by families in their houses, spending time in their environment and seeing how people in different countries live differently. And what kind of food people eat. It was just a real eye-opening week for me. I was very tired and I was struggling during this week, but it’s something that I will always remember.

And I will always bring this up as a story because this is what made me curious to go to other countries. So that’s my story.

Chris: That’s good. Eating - I think that’s half of it. The most exciting part about traveling for me is the food. Not only what you’re eating, but when you’re eating and how long you’re eating for. It’s different everywhere. It’s interesting that you had to experience that, especially with the language barriers, too. If you have a book recommendation for everyone listening, is there something that you recommend for a good read?

Johannes: I have something that I find really an interesting concept. The book is called Minimalism - Live a Meaningful Life and it just talks about kind of cutting down on the stuff, on the materialistic things many people all around the world nowadays are drawn to. Trying not to own too many items and just trying to focus on the things that are really important to yourself. And that also plays along well with studying abroad because when you study abroad you cannot bring many things. You only have one suitcase or maybe two. You only bring the most important things. Living life in a minimalistic way and only focusing on the things that are really important to your life is a really interesting concept to me and, therefore, that is a really interesting book that’s called Minimalism.

Chris: Minimalism. Ok, I’ll put that in the link and maybe people can check it out. And then, the next question is about food - your favorite food from back home and your favorite food from traveling abroad. What is it?

Johannes: My favorite food from back home in Austria - I grew up in a rural area and our most important, the biggest, meal for me was a cold Austrian dinner which is just a multi-grain dark bread with butter and different kinds of spreads on top, or tomatoes, or pickles, different kinds of cheeses. You would just have this with family and friends, and you would sit at the dinner table for an hour and a half or two hours. So this is my food from back home. But nowadays when I travel, anything that is local, anything that people in the area I’m in are eating or drinking. If I go to Turkey, I might have a coffee. If I go to America, I might have a burger. If I go to Scandinavia, I might bicycle around. Anything that’s local that people do is something that I’m trying to mimic and trying to blend in. I’m trying to learn why they do these things and why they like them. That applies to food and it can apply to many other things. So I don’t have one specific food in my travel places. Every country has something new.

Chris: You just want to blend in with the environment and have whatever they’re known for.

Johannes: Yeah.

Chris: Then, when you walk into a bar - what will your order, what do you have when you walk into a bar?

Johannes: That again depends on what the locals do. Each place has their own specialty. I have to bring up Tunisia again because this was such an interesting place for me. We went to a bar there.

Chris: Sure, yeah.

Johannes: You could have any kind of drink, but they were different from European bars because you did not get alcoholic drinks. It was just the same as in North America or in Europe, but the drinks were just not with alcohol. It was the same thing, just without the craziness that happens when people are not sober. So no specific drink, just whatever the locals drink and that might be every bar had no specific drink.

Chris: Ok, I didn’t know that about Tunisia. Then, do you have a favorite quote, your favorite quote off the top of your head?

Johannes: Making connection to the book I recommended, the quote would be, “Collect moments, not things.” Focus only on the things that are important to you. Collect the moments, not stuff.

Chris: Right! Ok, perfect. Those are all the questions I have. Do you have anything else you want to add?

Johannes: No. As I already said, I would suggest anybody to study abroad and try to do it before you are bound down by family, or a marriage, or children. The younger you travel abroad, the easier you like it or the easier it is for you to learn the language. And the less worries you have about things that could go wrong. So I encourage everybody to travel abroad, study abroad.

Chris: Thank you very much, Johannes. We’ll put a link to his book and maybe get a little more on Tunisia when I post everything. Thank you very much and, everyone, you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, it’s all on the website. So go ahead and do it there for new interviews when they come out. Thank you very much and we’ll see you on the next episode.



7 Unique Facts About UW - Oshkosh [Infographic]

Austrian Food Review Video

Catholic College Madison, WI

How To Study Abroad Twice as An Undergrad with Dilyn Riesterer

"It is for any student. It doesn’t matter what your financial situation or race is, anybody can study abroad." — Dilyn Riesterer

Dilyn Riesterer Vienna, Austria

Edgewood is truly a unique place in that they’ve got all the bases covered with elementary and middle schools, a high school, and college all on the same campus. So it is only natural that a college like this has a whip smart study abroad advisor to help facilitate the school’s global reach.

Not only did Dilyn study abroad twice (once in Austria, once in Germany), but she also holds a Master’s degree in Global Higher Education from the University of Wisconsin — Madison, so it is safe to say that she was a good fit for the show and someone who shares my passion for international education.

In this episode Dilyn and I discuss her own study abroad journey, overcoming fears while traveling, and learn about a European beverage that I did not know existed until now 🍌🍺.

Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life - and travel - leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks - on your body or on your heart - are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.— Anthony Bourdain

Full Interview Transcript

Chris: Welcome to the Study Abroadcast, everyone. This is Chris along with Dilyn Riesterer and she’s a study abroad advisor at Edgewood College. So, if you’re thinking about going to Edgewood College, or you go to Edgewood College, or you’re abroad and you’re thinking about coming to Edgewood College, listen up. We’re going to figure out how to study abroad in Madison, which is a great place to be if you’re a student or anyone. Welcome, Dilyn.

Dilyn: Thank you.

Chris: Yeah. Just a little background actually. I just read that Edgewood College got ranked on Money Magazine’s Best Value, or something, for a school. That’s pretty cool for 2018-2019. So, we’re here in Madison on the gorgeous campus of Edgewood College and thank you for being here.

Dilyn: Of course. Thanks for having me.

Chris: You’re welcome. So, Dilyn, you’re obviously involved in international education and we’ll get a little more into that, but why don’t you take us through your first time when you were a student studying abroad and the process you went through and where you went. Tell us about that trip.

Dilyn: I was studying at St. Norbert college in De Pere, Wisconsin. I was studying communication media studies, as well as just taking a few classes in the German language, and I came across an opportunity to do just a summer program in Strobl, Austria, and so this was a five-week summer program called Summer hochschule, which is basically a program that is sponsored by the University of Vienna that brought together students from 30 different nationalities to discuss and study European law, media and privacy, as well as the German language.

Chris: Wow!

Dilyn: Yeah, it was an incredible experience, so after that, I knew that studying abroad for a full semester was going to be the next step for me.

Chris: So you did the whole semester them.

Dilyn: After that, I went back to St. Norbert for one semester and then prepared to leave for my second study abroad experience, which started out with two months of intensive language training back in Vienna, Austria. Then, subsequently following that, I moved to Germany and did

A semester of studies. So that was aq really neat program that I got to spend two months in Vienna, Austria, which is just an incredible city, preparing for the language components of my university classes that I’d then be taking in Germany.

Chris: So can you speak German the, a little?

Dilyn: No, I can struggle through it.

Chris: That’s how I am in Spanish. Well, ok, so two times studying abroad. Then you got back and you went to graduate school and you did global education here in Madison?

Dilyn: Yeah, so I had a year back at St. Norbert trying to figure out what to do.

Chris: Like everyone.

Dilyn: Yes, exactly.

Chris: Ok.

Dilyn: And then the track that I chose was global higher ed, which was a cohort model where I got to study with other students who were either international students or have had great international experience, as well as engaging together to learn about the field of international higher education.

Chris: Nice. Until I talked to you, I didn’t even know that was an option for a major. I mean I know when you get into graduate school there are different facets and avenues you can take, but I had no idea you could study global higher education.

Dilyn: Yeah, it’s a very new program, but just incredible. I think this field is growing and so it’s important now to have the focus on that area of study.

Chris: Yeah, it’s definitely growing. That’s awesome that you went twice. I always say that just for getting into graduate school or getting a job after school, it makes poor students good and good students, great, etc., etc. I mean that’s why we’re here doing the podcast. So, you’ve been at Edgewood College now for a while and you mentioned the program you did to study abroad in vienna, Austria. Could you tell us, if there are any students listening who would be interested in coming to Edgewood, the best path to take in order to get here, or what’s the best way to do it.

Dilyn: Are you talking about degree-seeking or exchange or anything?

Chris: Anything.

Dilyn: Anything, yeah. I mean we have here in the center for Global Education, we’re very dedicated to making sure that students can have these experiences and we’re an extremely welcoming campus to international students. So myself, the two co-directors of this office, as well as our admissions team are happy to engage with anybody who has questions about coming to study here at Edgewood.

Chris: Ok, so just contact you guys.

Dilyn: Absolutely, yeah.

Chris: And so then from when you studied abroad, could you tell us, well it doesn’t have to be from studying abroad, but could you tell us a travel story or something you might tell at a dinner party or to someone. .

Dilyn: There are so many great stories of things i’ve seen, things i’ve done. Just so many experiences. But, I’m gonna talk about maybe just one of the more unfortunate experiences i’ve had.

Chris: Ok, those are good to hear, too.

Dilyn: Yeah, I feel it’s important to recognize. So, flying, this was my second time studying abroad, we arrived in - and we I mean students i didn’t know yet - we all met in Vienna, Austria, and it was a snow storm and so we just briefly walked through the city center and then were taken to our apartments and left there. I was living alone in my apartment at this time and I went to the bathroom and when I went to open the door to get back out, I could not get it open.

Chris: So you were in the bathroom.

Dilyn: I was in the bathroom, stuck in this bathroom.

Chris: Oh no!

Dilyn: I was pounding on the door, trying to kick it and everything. It took me an hour to get out of the bathroom. I was screaming because then i started to freak out, why can’t I get this door open. And i had locked it.

Chris: Did you guys have cell phones yet? You had just gotten there...

Dilyn: We just got there and, you know, I still had my jacket and everything, not settled at all and first thing that happened to me is I’m locked in this bathroom for an hour.

Chris: Ohhh...

Dilyn: And so now I have this fear of locking doors.

Chris: Yeah, or just getting trapped anywhere.

Dilyn: Or getting trapped.

Chris: So when you got out, did you figure out what it was? It wasn’t open or obvious, was it? What happened?

Dilyn: The lock got jammed. I never locked it again. I was the only one living there so it didn’t really matter, but, yeah, it wa just a faulty lock. I just started rattling it back and forth, and eventually I got it to loosen.

Chris: Did you know and no one heard you?

Dilyn: I was screaming, knocking. Nobody came. You know, you start thinking well, ok, maybe tomorrow if i don’t show up for class, somebody will come look for me. These kinds of thoughts started coming through my head. It was a really scary experience that didn’t really start the experience off great. But I followed that up by traveling to budapest with a friend to kind of get over this fear and went crawling through caves. And so lots of tight spaces, being underground and I mean i was just shaking going in the experience. But, all in all, it was so incredible and such a fun day of adventuring and trying to conquer that original fear of it.

Chris: Nice. Ok, so a little advice to everyone - if you’re leaving to different country, make sure that you don’t get locked in somewhere, or make sure you can get out before you lock the door. Thanks for the cautionary tale, Dilyn. Here on campus, if I was a student at Edgewood College and came into your office, what would you tell me. Like, I’m thinking of studying abroad, but I don’t know if i can afford it. What would you say to a student just thinking about it?

Dilyn: I would definitely, at that point, I would get to know that student. Maybe what their goal is for studying abroad, why it came to mind in the first place, is there any part of the world they’re really interested in going. And then i would encourage them to set up a meeting with our peer advisor, which is a student who works for the Center for Global Education who has studeed abroad.

Chris: Oh, that’s really nice. My school didn’t have that.

Dilyn: Oh, really? Yeah, t’s really great because they get to talk to somebody who is on the same level as them as being a student here and can talk about how did they afford studying abroad versus me telling them studying abroad is affordable.

Chris: It’s a fallacy.

Dilyn: Exactly.

Chris: Students think you just have to be loaded in order to do it. You can get away with - as far as your college education goes and that cost - you can get away with going for the cost of a plane ticket, everything being equal. And, especially if you[‘re going to a private school ike Edgewood, or paying out-of-state tuition, it can b even be cheaper.

Dilyn: We truly do make it affordable and, you know, those are discussions I’m willing to have with students, as well. If they’re worried about finances, I’m not going to say you should study in Australia, or something, where the cost of living is so extreme. We can find programs where it might be even cheaper for you to study abroad than be living here in madison.

Chris: Right, yeah. So if you’re on campus, come and visit Dilyn and she’ll set you up with a career advisor and you’re off and running. Ok, a few rapid fire questions, Dilyn, so everyone can get to know you a little better. What would be a book you would recommend?

Dilyn: I just actually finished a book called American Radial which looks into the life of an American Muslim who moved here from Saudi Arabia. He is an FBI agent in New York and has to go undercover to look into terrorism. I just kind of really opens your eyes to some of those beliefs of Muslims, because I’m not Muslim so I wanted to learn more about it. This book was really great because it was his perspective of being an American Muslim, as well as the Muslim perspective from Saudi Arabia, kind of in the framework of 911.

Chris: Post-911, right? So it puts you into the shoes of this American Muslim.

Dilyn: The book kind of starts off when 911 happens and his reaction to it - ok, because I‘m American Muslim, what am I gonna do about this.

Chris: All right. I’ll have to check that one out. Thank you for the recommendation. And then, the topic of food, which is a big reason why I studied abroad and why probably a lot of people do travel - to try different food. First of all, for international students listening, what’s your favorite food here in the States, or from home?

Dilyn: I’m a huge soup person. My mom makes this fantastic chicken noodle soup, which is a classic, and just a very homey soup where, you know, on those cold winter days, especially here in Wisconsin, I think it’s just such a classic for the American culture to have homemade soup.

Chris: So if you’re an international student listening, we’ve got great chicken noodle soup here. You’ll just have to head to Dilyn’s house.

Dilyn: Yes, all are welcome.

Chris: Like she said, the foods change with the seasons actually, so if you’re living in a climate where the seasons don’t change too much, you can check out Edgewood College for a taste of the four seasons which, in Madison, is beautiful. It’s a great place to be if you’re thinking about coming to the United States. When you were studying abroad in Austria or Germany, what’s something that you remember from there that you wish you could have here?

Dilyn: Well, being in Austria, I have to say wiener schnitzel, which is a very traditional dish. For those of you who don’t know what wiener schnitzel is, it’s a thin cut of veal that’s breaded and then fried an garnished with a lemon. It’s just very, very good.

Chris: I wish I could have one of those for lunch today. Ok, if you walk into a bar, what are you ordering?

Dilyn: Did you want here in the States, or abroad?

Chris: Both.

Dilyn: Here in the States,. I would have to go with any sort of cocktail that has gin in it. I really enjoy gin. Or wine. But abroad, living in Germany, I really enjoyed the beer there.

Chris: Of course.

Dilyn: One in particular is called bananaweizen. It’s basically our wheat beer, well their wheat beer, with banana juice.

Chris: Oooh, I didn’t even know banana juice was a thing.

Dilyn: We just don’t have it here and so if you go to Germany, just try it. Don’t knock it til you try it because it’s actually really good. If you’ve had wheat beer before, it already has that hint of banana flavor, so this just kind of exemplifies it a little bit more.

Chris: I want to go there. The stuff there sounds better than the stuff here. I want wiener schnitzel and a banana beer. What’s it called again?

Dilyn: Bananaweizen.

Chris: Bananaweizen - ok. All right, do you have a quote you’d like to tell?

Dilyn: I was a big Anthony Bourdain fan so in honor of him, he has this quote that says, “Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world, you change things slightly. You leave marks behind, however small, and in return, life and travel leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks on your body or on your heart are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.” And so I find this quote really interesting and I try to internalize it. I do a lot of journaling and writing my perspective on how travel can be something so beautiful, but how it does hurt, because for me hurt truly is engendered by travel. It’s this realization of everything that you have learned while traveling, but everything that you’ve yet to come to know and realize about the world and experience in the world, as well as once you have that travel bug - that constant desire to move, to keep traveling - but then finding peace of mind at home. I think in particular that’s one that really stand out to me.

Chris: I still can’t believe he’s gone now. He’s got a ton of good quotes actually. Think Exist or that quote page. Is there anything else you’d like to add to the students listening? Just to give you a little… the reason I started this is because if you’re thinking about studying abroad, you can look at travel blogs and advice for travelers until you’re blue in the face, but there’s nothing really geared toward study abroad students in the way of a podcast. But there are blogs, so I’m basically trying to shift that copy into audio and that’s why we’re here. You obviously recommend doing it for any student, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Dilyn: Yeah, if I could study abroad a hundred times, I would. But truly, I just want to emphasize, and you’ve already said it, it is for any student. It doesn’t matter what your financial situation is, what your race is, anybody can study abroad and we truly, truly in this office here want to help students have those experiences and make sure that it’s the best possible fit for each student.

Chris: Well thank you very much for being here. You guys, if you don’t want to keep coming to the website to look at new interviews, I’ll post them all on social media so you can follow us ther. Otherwise, take care and we’ll see you next time. Thanks a lot, Dilyn.

Dilyn: Thank you.

Chris: Bye.

Edgewood College By The Numbers INFOGRAPHIC

Austrian Wiener Schnitzel Video

Bananaweizen: German beer cocktail

Study Abroad Madison College

How Dr. Geoff Bradshaw is Revolutionizing International Education

"To study abroad is something that leverages us in a way that most other types of learning just doesn’t do." — Dr. Geoff Bradshaw, Madison College

Hong Rost Leadership Award winner, Dr. Geoff Bradshaw has overseen international education at Madison College for the past several years and has been an integral part in the school’s global reach. Dr. Bradshaw’s work on the Community College Sustainable Development Network (CCSDN), has helped make Madison College one of the most prominent international Community Colleges in the world.

In 2016 Geoff received the Hong Rost award 🏆, which is an annual award presented to an outstanding professional in the state of Wisconsin who embodies the dedication and passion in international education.

In this interview we discuss Geoff’s role with CCSDN, why community college students don’t study abroad as much as those at traditional 4 year institutions, and the value of service learning.

"Life’s a book, and those who don’t travel only read one page." — St. Augustine

Dr. Bradshaw’s book recommendations:

Things Fall Apart by China Achebe
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

Full Interview Transcript

Chris: All right. Welcome everyone to an episode of the Study Abroadcast. I am at Madison College right now with Dr. Geoff Bradshaw. Geoff, welcome to the Study Abroadcast. Thank you very much for being here. We really appreciate it, as we do all our guests. How are you doing today?

Geoff: I’m doing well. Thank you.

Chris: Good? Good day today?

Geoff: Yeah.

Chris: All right. Well, Geoff, why don’t you go ahead and tell them what your title is and your background? Madison College is a community college, guys. About 45% of all undergraduate students are at community college. So, listen up. All right.

Geoff: I’m the Director of International Education at Madison College or Madison Area Technical College, here in Madison, Wisconsin. We’re a large community in technical college. There’s about close to 40,000 students who take at least a class from us each year. And the Center for International Education works with study abroad programs as well as the incoming international students and internationalization of the curriculum.

I’ve been into college now for a long time, but since 1997 – and originally came to the college doing multicultural work after I’d finished a PhD in cultural anthropology, and expected it to be something temporary while I moved on to teaching anthropology as a full-time career path. And at the time, the college had no international programs. And at the same time, I’ve received a grant to go to South Africa and work with the people working with NGOs and human rights work.

And when I came back from that project the college said, “We really need some help coordinating some of these international programs. Do you want a 20% assignment for that?” So I started out as a 20% assignment and then a 50% assignment and then a one-person office. And now there’s four other staff in the Center for International Education and we’re really becoming something of a national model for community college internationalization.

Chris: Wow! Busy-bee.

Geoff: But some of that I think really parallels what happen nationally with community colleges, so some of it is just really in the right place at the right time as part of that transition. And so, especially 15 years ago most community colleges didn’t have a strong international program. And part of it was mission-focused. So colleges were focused on providing people with either the job skills for employment in that local district and most of those jobs weren’t particularly international at that time, for preparing people to transfer on to a four-year education and the assumption was you could do those global studies in your junior and senior years and you didn’t need to do that in your general education courses in your first two years.

And that landscape has really changed in the last 10 years nationally, especially in the last five years almost every community college has some kind of international program. And it comes again from both directions. So those local jobs aren’t just local anymore. Even if people never plan to leave our district, the customers they work with, the co-workers they work with, the suppliers they work with are all globally diverse and the employers are expecting people to have global competencies as part of their employment even if they only have a two-year degree.

And for people who transfer, if you’re going to major in international studies or in foreign language or other kinds of subjects like that, you really need to begin that educational path earlier than your junior or senior year in order to accomplish those goals. So the transfer institutions are expecting that as well. And so the whole landscape around community colleges has really grown its focus around internationalization.

Chris: Wow. So, you quite literally have been a trendsetter in these areas, technical colleges. I remember what you touched on about kids thinking they come here for two years and then they transfer right after the ones that are full-time undergraduates, the younger ones. And that’s not necessarily the case anymore where they can just stay here the whole time. A lot of them do. Is that right?

Geoff: Well, again, you have a mix of things. So we still a lot of students who come to us for two years and they transfer to another institution. We also receive a lot of people who already have a bachelor’s degree, who come back to a community college to get a specific skill set related to their field of studies that’ll combine a bachelor’s degree with a community college degree so it becomes the new master’s degree and things. And in all those levels people are looking for opportunities to build their intercultural communication skills, to build their knowledge about other countries, to interact with people from other parts of the world, and that’s what we try and do here at the Center for International Education.

Chris: Not as many people study abroad at community colleges as they do at other four-year institutions. I think the reason is that they just don’t know about it. Financially, I know it’s tough either way whether you’re at a four-year or here. But what do you think what are their fears and doubts? Why aren’t more kids doing it? Why wouldn’t you go abroad for a semester or summer or something?

Geoff: I think there’s several reasons that community college students don’t study abroad at the same rates that they do at other bachelor’s degree or other institutions. And so as you indicated, some just don’t think of that as something that’s part of the scope of what they’ll have at the colleges and it comes from that history of community colleges being focused on education for the local community and not having traditionally been part of what was offered as a part of community colleges. That’s just not on students’ radar. So, part of our role is just to get out there and make students aware this is an opportunity for you.

I think a lot of community colleges are also really built around access as a mission. And so we’re often the first point for higher ed for people who are first-generation students and there are people who haven’t had other access to higher education, and so their families, others, there hasn’t been a culture of study abroad. So the whole concept to study abroad is, “Well, that’s not for me. That’s for wealthy students.” That’s for other students that they didn’t think about, and so breaking down at some of those kinds of barriers.

And then, thirdly, there’s cost questions. People think, “Well, this is going to be too expensive.” And there’s a couple different answers I have to the cost question, usually. So, one, some of our semester programs are cheaper to go abroad than they are to live in Madison, so unless you’re already living with your parents and all of those costs are paid for, if you’re paying for housing in Madison and going to school here, our program in Xi’an, China, is cheaper even including the airfare to spend a whole semester there than it is to spend here. But people don’t think about their calculating costs.

Chris: That’s a common thread. People assume that you’re going abroad and you’re living in a penthouse and eating caviar every night. It’s not. You still have to pay for rent. You still have to eat food.

Geoff: Yeah, no matter where you are going to do that and cost of living is often much cheaper in other parts of the world. I’m thinking about those experiences. There are also a number of scholarship programs. So, especially people who really are financially needy, people who are Pell Grant eligible and receiving federal financial aid to go to college, the federal government has put money into the Gilman Scholarship and other scholarships to really try and encourage those students who haven’t thought about that to study abroad. So, a lot of times students aren’t aware that there’s quite a bit of money available, specifically those students who really are needy.

The other group of students we often have are people who have family responsibilities, other kinds of more complicated lives. And so getting away for a full semester may not be a reality for them. They may have to care for an elderly parent. They may be parents themselves. They may have other work that they can’t get away from. So what we’ve done is a lot of effort to build short-term, high-value experiential learning programs so that students can go for 10 days or two weeks and still have an international experience that might be linked to a longer class here on campus, to at least give those exposure opportunities as well as then longer four-week type programs and full semester opportunities as well but to try and create that portfolio of opportunities for students.

Chris: So that’s a really good point about how a lot of them have other responsibilities. I wrote about go to Canada for two weeks in the summer or a month and just to say you studied abroad. Just do something to get out there and put it on your resume, I think.

Geoff: Well, a lot of them built a number of programs doing short-term service learning programs in Central America, and the Caribbean is one of the places we’ve done a lot of specialization in. And some of those opportunities are really eye-opening opportunities for people to really learn about another culture, to really understand global income inequalities, to think about things like how they apply hands-on skills like renewable energy, nursing, or construction abroad while they’re there. They’re in the same time zone, the flights are much more expensive than the art of flying domestically to places on either coast in the United States.

Chris: Yeah, so you touched on something there and this is a community college. Is it a technical school?

Geoff: Yeah, a technical and community college.

Chris: The community college students, do they go to host school then? How does that work? Do you go to other community college host schools? How does that work done?

Geoff: Again, we have set this broad portfolio of opportunities. So there’s about 25 different study abroad options to choose from here at Madison College and those range from partner institutions abroad, host schools, which may be a community college or it may be some other type of institution that hosts students that we have articulated with.

And then those shorter-term programs that I was just talking about, there are faculty-led programs and so those may not have a partner institution abroad but rather it’s a faculty member from our college who talks about how are we apply the skills that we’re learning here to this environment abroad. Especially the short-term, two-week, 10-day kinds of programs tend to be what we call short-term faculty led programs in the field.

Chris: Yeah. So branching off that, there are majors and there are things here that you do that they’re cool. You guys work on cars. You build stuff. You work with metal and wood and all that. Now are there programs that could I go apprentice at a car factory in Germany? Is that something that you can work into to tailor your craft and go learn from the best? Fashion design, all this stuff in Europe. I know they do wood and I think beef and wine in South America. Is there anything you can play up with that?

Geoff: Exactly. One of the things that we really try to do is put a real emphasis on providing access and opportunity for study abroad in those career fields. How do we build career-relevant experiences that are really going to allow people to apply what they’re learning here and studying and provide a resume line that’s really directly related to those experiences, that’s to say “I practiced these skills abroad in these areas.”

And so the college has over 150-degree programs and so almost any sector of employment of the college, we offer some kind of credential and we’ve been growing those. So, whether it’s culinary programs going to Europe and looking at cuisine, to nursing programs looking at rural Jamaica, to construction programs that are doing sustainable construction in Costa Rica, renewable energy programs that are wiring solar panels. We’ve tried to look at how can we grow programs that are directly related to those skill sets, and at this point we have one for every community college.

Chris: No, you have 150 of them.

Geoff: 150 of them.

Chris: But the fact that you’re doing it, I think that alone separate, that’s better than what the bigger schools are doing, the four-year ones. Just to go in and just learn your craft and apprentice from someone and then learn through osmosis. I think that’s terrific that you guys are doing that. So changing gears. From your own travels, can you share an epic travel story or something you can tell at a dinner party?

Geoff: Let’s see. I don’t know if it’s necessarily a dinner party epic travel story.

Chris: It can be funny. It can be anything you want. I originally had it worded as funny and then I realized I’m eliminating half the stories. But any kind of story, anything you’d like to tell.

Geoff: For me, some of the most powerful experiences related to travel, especially travel that was related to the work that I do here, has been around these service learning programs in Central America and the Caribbean. And so, when we were working in rural Costa Rica putting solar panels on lights of people’s homes, these are people who are either too poor or too remote to connect to the electrical grid. So they never had a light switch in their home at all. They’re either using candles or kerosene, especially with the equator there it gets dark about six o’clock year-round. It isn’t like you have 9 o’clock, 10 o’clock summers like we have in the North.

And to see the expression on their face, the first time they flip that light switch on and just see the students having been part of those kinds of things, we really see that transformation in their lives. And for students who never experience a place where people wouldn’t have electricity or those kinds of things, those were some really epic, in their own way kind of experiences that I’ve been able to have by working with these kinds of programs.

Chris: Just being able to see them light up. The people, not the lights.

Geoff: The beaming on their faces, see them light up and their sense of pride to have been selected as somebody respected from the community because the way these worked was the local community selected who should receive this kind of thing. Often it was elders in the community or people who respected in different ways or people who work with traditional healing, other things, were often the homes that were selected where we’re working to do these kinds of installations. And to have those kinds of opportunities where you could transcend those language barriers and really have these heartfelt experiences where you felt like you were making a difference in people’s lives and they were really appreciating you being a part of that.

Chris: Oh, my God. I can’t even imagine to see that, yeah. That’s something that sticks with you. Well, now I know why you told us that story. It’s as a good one. I can’t believe all that stuff you’ve done here at Madison College. Would I be too ambitious to ask what’s next or what do you have on the horizon? Do you have anything in the pipeline that you’re working on? You’ve already done so much. I don’t know.

Geoff: Well, I think we’re always growing and always working on different kinds of things here and you really have to be in the field. One of the biggest things that we did in the last few years is that after being able to grow some of the programs at Madison College, we were looking at what were the challenges that kept other community colleges for doing the similar kind of work. And so, in 2010, when we received the Department of State grant for capacity building in study abroad, and what we did with that project is we looked out to other community colleges, that how can we grow access and opportunity especially around these faculty-led service learning programs. And we created something called the Community College Sustainable Development Network, CCSDN.

CCSDN was this network that did a couple of things. And so, one, we had faculty from other community colleges – 24 of them in all sent their faculty on our program so that they could see some of these programs in action and experience some of the things like the story I was just telling about the renewable energy and lights and those kind of service programs. And then we started doing workshops on nuts and bolts of how do you build study abroad, what is the risk management that needs to go into that? What kind of insurance do you need?

Chris: So, just really building it from the group-up.

Geoff: So many schools that don’t have that or some of the smaller community colleges that don’t have any kind of office for this, they might just have a faculty member who has maybe a course release from their normal load to try and grow some of these programs, how can we help them get the skills they need to leverage those. And then the third piece was then working together with those colleges to team-run study abroad programs.

And so there were 18 different programs that were launched out of that, mostly in Central America and the Caribbean to do all sorts of different programs from agriculture to criminal justice, all sorts of different themes. And each of those had two or three colleges working together to have enough students, to have a cohort, to make that a successful program. And what we’re looking at now is to think about how do we continue to do that program and really be a national trainer to help other colleges get to the place that we’re at now? How we can we scale that and provide those, share those training resources that we were able to develop with others.

Chris: Wow. So you built a playbook, gave the other guys the playbook, and now you’re trying to build it, tell each other, “Well, here, this worked here, this didn’t work there.” That’s phenomenal.

Geoff: Correct. And I’m a big believer in leveraging collaboration and working in. So this is a field where it doesn’t make any sense to try and invent a program and run it by yourself. If you can leverage lots of other people who can work together with that, you can sport each other, you have bigger numbers to work with to be able to run programs in niche fields that you might not be able to sustain on your own campus. And especially around when you’re talking about health and safety of students, we want everybody to be safe and so if that happens at any school and it has impacts on everyone, so you want to give everyone resources to build this quality programs as possible.

Chris: Wow. I’m blown away, really. We’ve got to start making some noise about this. We’ve to start buzzing a little and get the word out here. You’re ready for some rapid fire questions, Geoff? A book that you recommend, what would you recommend?

Geoff: So there’s two different tracks when people ask me about travel books. On one hand, I’m a big fan of cultural historical fictions. So things that allow you to dive into another culture through those. So Chinua Achebe’s classic book on Africa of Things Fall Apart, which is a book that talks about colonialism in Africa or an American author on the same theme, Barbara Kingsolver. She had The Lacuna or the Poisonwood Bible or a couple of things.

For a non-fiction book, I’m a fan of Bill Bryson as a travel writer. He’s not an academic. He’s a travel writer. His book on Australia, I think it’s called A Sunburned Country. He’s just a humorous writer but he brings in all insights where there’s talking about the historical impact on the aboriginal indigenous population and Australia to drinking in a pub. He’ll weave all those things together in a funny travel writer’s way.

Chris: Yeah. I’ve got to check him out, Bill Bryson. And then Barbara Kingsolver?

Geoff: Barbara Kingsolver.

Chris: What was the first one?

Geoff: Chinua Achebe.

Chris: I’ll link these up. So where did you say you’re from, again?

Geoff: I’m originally from the Midwest. So I’ve lived in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Chris: So what’s your favorite dish from back home?

Geoff: When I’m abroad and people ask me about that, my take is typically cornbread. Because it’s this Midwestern food with anything, you can make with cheese, you can add up with lots of different things. It’s not really a main dish, but it’s my go-to if I want to bring something to a potluck.

Chris: I’m not just panting to you as I’m interviewing but I haven’t had cornbread in forever and now I really want some. The Isthmus Food Cart Festival is this weekend actually. So maybe we can check that out. So when you’re abroad, is there anything that blew you away when you were in abroad? Anything?

Geoff: I’m just a big fan of experiencing the variety of foods abroad. And so I really like Indian food and Indonesian food. They have a specific dish per se that I really like. Somebody once told me that good Indian food brings you through at least five different senses of sweet, salty, sour – the complexity of all of those things together in one dish. And so, once they said that I’d been thinking about it from that perspective when I sit down for that kind of food.

Chris: I’m talking about here in the States. But the lunch buffets that they have at Indian restaurants are just…

Geoff: It gives you an opportunity to savor lots of different things too on that buffet.

Chris: I know. If you walk into a bar, what are you going to order?

Geoff: A craft beer.

Chris: Craft beer. And if you could have dinner with one living person, who would it be and why?

Geoff: That’s a hard question. But I would probably say Muhammad Yunus. He was a Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of Grameen Bank. He was really the person who created microcredit as a philosophy. And so he’s from Bangladesh and it was probably the early ‘90s maybe or in the late ‘80s when he founded that. But that whole model now has taken off worldwide with this whole idea of having microloans so that you can have a small chunk of money, give it to somebody in the community when they’re successful and get started up with some entrepreneurship and that money comes back to other people in the community. And just seeing that and thinking about how he could scale that in different things, I’d love to have a conversation.

Chris: Just to get into his mind. That’s definitely a thing. I have a friend from school do that. He ran a pretty successful business, not he gave back but it worked, to say the least. You’re at your happiest when you’re doing what? Hobby, anything?

Geoff: Besides traveling and experiencing new places, one of the things that is most rewarding for me is watching students be transformed and succeed. Watching students who might have been in their shell and come back from the study abroad experience, just wide-eyed and eager to embrace the diversity of the world, and that’s the stuff that keeps me in this work.

Chris: Yeah. No, I know what you’re talking about. I get it. Yeah.

Geoff: Yeah, just that achievement and growth and all of those kinds of things and watching them open up and grow and mature as people. And I think to study abroad is one of the things that leverages those in a way that most other types of learning just doesn’t do. And so you can sometimes see that in students in ways that a classroom instructor maybe only sees in small incremental pieces. And a study abroad experience opens up, transforms whole worlds for people sometimes.

Chris: And you’re definitely in the right place to be doing that too. So, your job makes you happy. Most people can’t say that. And finally, do you have a quote that you’d like to leave us with? Anything?

Geoff: The quote I like comes from a monk, Saint Augustine. “Life is a book and if you don’t travel, you’re really stuck on one page.”

Chris: Yup. I’m familiar with that quote. It’s a good one. I like that. All right, Geoff, is there anything else you want to add? Any other advice?

Geoff: I would just say for anybody who isn’t sure about study abroad or just hadn’t thought about that, that it’s really something, one of the most powerful things to do in your educational experience, and that aside from the challenges of cost or time commitment or other kinds of things like that, that I encourage people to just really look at it and make it a goal or a priority, and think about the career impacts to be able to have global competencies but also just the ability to interact with other people and grow as an individual, is something that is priceless, really. And if you want it enough, come and work with our offices, work with other people and we can create a long-term plan for how you’re going to get there, even if it doesn’t seem very possible right now.

Chris: Right. Yeah, that’s what my first 10 at University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, is done. How much? It’s priceless. The experience is priceless.

So, all right, well thank you very much, Geoff. Guys, thanks for tuning in. Be sure to stay tuned. There will be plenty more podcasts coming up and have a good day. All right, thanks.

5 Reasons Madison College is A Wise Choice [Infographic]

The Ultimate Indonesian Food Day Trip Video

Why you should apply for scholarships

4 Steps To Applying For A Study Abroad

Study abroad scholarships consist mainly of essays and there are enough to apply to that it can become overwhelming. When I applied for (and received) the Gilman Scholarship I worked smarter, and not harder. Below you will find an illustration of how I went about my scholarship application process. You'll find its a lot like schoolwork where you start with the hardest task first.

Here is a link to 45 study abroad scholarships you can apply to. I hate to sound like a parent, advisor or professor, but the earlier the better. Why? Because you'll want to revise and edit your scholarship essays until you craft the perfect story that you think will give you the best chance of receiving aid. Expenses abroad can mount quickly so you'll want to get all the help you can get as early in the process as possible.

One thing I've learned since starting The Study Abroadcast is that different schools offer different scholarships that pertain specifically to them. So it might be worth talking to your study abroad advisor to discuss some viable options there. He or she may know of some specific schools where you'll have more of a chance of being awarded some money.

4 Steps To Applying For Scholarships Specifically Designed For Study Abroad Students [INFOGRAPHIC] 


Learning Spanish Abroad

Studying Abroad Four Times (yes, four times) with Ben Beatty

Studying Abroad Four Times (yes, four times) with Ben Beatty

"Take your time. There is absolutely no downside and really only upside." — Dr. Ben Beatty

I have known Ben Beatty since I was in the sixth grade. We’ve had our share of adventures all over the world and I thought he’d be a perfect guest to have on the podcast. As an undergrad, Dr. Beatty took studying abroad to a whole new level:

  • Dominican Republic
  • Puerto Rico
  • Spain
  • Mexico (I didn’t even know about this one)

That’s not a fabrication. If you’re on the edge about studying abroad once, try listening to someone who has done it four times. As you could probably guess, Ben is fluent in Spanish. So if you’re interested in learning a new language while abroad - this interview is definitely for you.

We talk about how Ben built a unique resume starting right after his freshman year of college, a Chicago adventure, and a near death experience. Oh boy.

Quote Ben would like to leave you with:

Only make moves if your hearts' in it, the sky's the limit. — Biggie Smalls

Show Notes:

Where to live if you’re looking to learn a new language [5:10]

Madrid memories [9:36]

Setting up a research project in paradise [11:40]

Passion projects are important [19:50]

A traveling medicine man [27:00]

Link Lasers

Ben’s book recommendation - Being Mortal
I’ll have What Phil’s Having - A must if you’re a foodie
Ben’s DJ Books’ Soundcloud page

Full Interview Transcript

Chris: All right, hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the Study Abroadcast. I am here virtually with Dr. Benjamin Beatty. Ben and I have known each other for several years. He’s an extremely close friend. And he has studied abroad many times. He’s gone to Spain. He’s gone to Puerto Rico. And he took an adventure down to South America, which we can also talk about.

Ben, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it. And why don’t we just get started and tell us a little bit about your background and how you got to where you are today and what your study abroad trips and everything?

Ben: Will do. Thanks for having me, Chris. I want to say I love the name Study Abroadcast. That’s quite a bit creative and I love it.

Chris: Thank you very much.

Ben: But, yeah, a little bit about myself. I grew up with Chris in the Wisconsin area. And I went to a public high school and then ended up going to a Midwestern college, and then I had a couple important decisions come across me at that time in terms of what kind of pathway I was trying to pursue as a career, and that’s where I basically had ruled out business and installed Spanish and medicine as a career path for me.

And it worked out incredibly well. And it allowed me to travel every single year while I was at college, and those experiences ended up giving me plenty of ammunition and experiences to talk about and reflect on through the years and years and years of vetting and interviewing, and everything really culminated in incredibly valuable experience to where I’m at now.

And right now, I’m actually a medicine resident at University of Colorado, here in Denver. And I am in my second year. And so I will be here for another year and then will pursue community hospital medicine maybe around here or back in Midwest. So that’s me, Chris. That was maybe a little lengthy, but that hits the highlights.

Chris: No. Hey, go as far as you want. Yeah, I remember I think you told me that it was a business, Spanish and medicine and you had to pick two. Right?

Ben: Yes.

Chris: That was the path.

Ben: Correct. Correct.

Chris: Yeah.

Ben: It’s a very vivid memory of that decision.

Chris: Yeah. So maybe do you want to get into a little bit of what you did for studying abroad, like where did you go and what did you do while you were studying abroad?

Ben: Well, so as I mentioned, every single year I went to a different place because I had known very early on that Spanish was going to be my major, and so to decorate that and to feel the skills that come along with that I told myself I’d just be somewhere every year to just practice speaking the language. So the first year I went to the Dominican Republic.

Chris: Ah, yes, that’s right.

Ben: Yes, with a program that was organized through the university, University of Michigan. And it was two months and it was light schoolwork in a small project and we stayed with families, as is typical for these programs, and then had basically Monday through Friday light work and had a chance to do odds and ends with other American students. So that was that. That was fun.

Chris: Yeah. So then that was freshman year?

Ben: That was after my freshman year.

Chris: The summer after your freshman year, right?

Ben: Correct.

Chris: And then was it Madrid?

Ben: I went to Madrid the second half of my junior year. And that was a formal semester abroad. It was through IES which I think my impression is it’s a third party who works with the University of Michigan and has their own curriculum in school, in classrooms to do curriculum in Madrid. And then in addition I also took one or two classes at the Complutense University there. And it was a semester long.

Chris: So you told me a little bit about that and I’ve heard about that. That was a lot of fun, wasn’t it?

Ben: That was fantastic. Yeah. Another living in a family situation which is, of course, I’d recommend for anyone who’s going to be traveling somewhere for a period of time.

Chris: Oh, that’s good. So, yeah, get into that a little. You have options. You can stay with a host family. You can get a shared apartment. You can do an exchange program. Why would you recommend staying with a family? What’s the benefit of that in your opinion?

Ben: So I guess backing up, I think it depends on what you’re wanting to get out of the experience. I think if you’re really wanting to obtain language skills first and foremost, I think by necessity you have to stay and just be surrounded by that language for as much as you can. And so you miss out on that if you, for example, stay in a shared apartment with other English-speaking students, short of courageous efforts to try and speak Spanish amongst yourselves.

But I think in addition to the language, which I think is huge, the other thing is culture, the food. You get a lot better exposure. You inculcate yourself into it much easier and more obviously than you can go back to that apartment and have the comfort and familiarity of various American-theme things by virtue of the fact that everyone there is culturally the same. But you don’t get that. You’re forced to be surrounded by things that are almost always foreign and strange to you by living with someone who’s foreign and strange.

Chris: No. Yeah, it’s a good point. I did both. But I remember the first part I lived with, well, actually a host mother who had a small daughter and she was there for half the time, but yeah, they make the breakfast for you, so you get acclimated to the breakfast, really get the culture of the food, I think, right away, as well as the language. So, yeah, I couldn’t agree with you more there.

Ben: Yeah.

Chris: That’s a good advice. Sage advice recorded, that’s what we say.

Ben: Well, officially on the record, the shared experience might offer you more ability to party, have fun, stay up late, be American. So I’ll throw that out there. Depending on what you’re looking for, maybe depending on the length of time and so forth.

Chris: Right. No, no. Definitely. So it’s Madrid. And what were some of the things you did while in Madrid? Did you go to any other countries?

Ben: I did. I started frequently went probably on a every six to eight-week basis, would go on weekend or long weekend trips to surrounding countries, or surrounding regions. So I went to Morocco, for example. I went to other areas in Spain including the southern coast. We went to Ibiza, Majorca, which are day trips, or actually weekend trips. And then also went to London to see my brother briefly. That was another weekend trip.

Chris: Wait, he was there while you were over in Madrid?

Ben: He was. He overlapped at the end of my time there.

Chris: Yeah, I didn’t know that. Yeah, we’ll have to interview him too. But, yeah, just so you guys know, Ben’s got a twin brother. So we’re going to have an identical podcast coming up soon. But, yeah, that is awesome that you got to visit him. And what do you remember most about Madrid? I wrote about this, there is a show called I’ll Have What Phil’s Having. And it’s like Anthony Bourdain. It’s on PBS. It’s Phil Rosenthal. He was the co-writer of Everybody Loves Raymond. But he’s basically got the best job in the world. He just travels to different cities and samples delicious food from everywhere. And one of the cities he did, I believe was Madrid. I could be wrong. But just some of the places in there look so good.

Ben: Yeah. There are so many cool things about it. Their central square which the name escapes me, Plaza Central, which is the center plaza, was incredibly beautiful. Everything is from the 15 and 1400s. You have this stone work and a colonial feel. So it’s just a really, I don’t know, blast from the past type feel. That and elsewhere in Europe. And the restaurants. There’s a couple of great buyers in that area as well. But, yeah, it was a pretty cool place.

Chris: No, I’m sure there are. And also, too, as far as the culture goes – I learned this when I was in Buenos Aires – it’s so much different. The siestas and just staying, having it be normal to go to dinner late and stay out a lot later, it’s not just something you do when you’re young. It’s the norm for most people, right?

Ben: Right.

Chris: Yeah.

Ben: Right.

Chris: Yeah, I need to go back.

Ben: The calendar and timeline’s different. Yeah. It’s good because it definitely takes acclimating too. The whole schedule in and of itself is requiring an acclimation. So.

Chris: Yeah. So just so you know, ladies and gentlemen, we have Madrid. What was the first one again?

Ben: The first one was Dominican Republic.

Chris: Yeah. I read that. I’m sorry about that, I wrote that on a different page.

Ben: No worries.

Chris: Yeah. So Dominican Republic, Madrid, and then was it Puerto Rico?

Ben: I did Puerto Rico before Madrid and after Dominican Republic.

Chris: All right. So I skipped to the good part, I’m sorry. But Puerto Rico, I’m sure was awesome.

Ben: It’s all good. It’s all good.

Chris: I know firsthand it was awesome. Why don’t you tell everyone a little bit about Puerto Rico?

Ben: Puerto Rico was as an interesting gig that I got on my own. It was organized through a research group that basically spent time at this protected area, rainforest, in Puerto Rico on the northern coast. And they basically did an ecological research where they looked at tree growth over really long periods of time every 15, 20, 30, 40 years in response to weather and various patterns of growth, for example, and how it influences surrounding species. The elevation, what kind of influence that has on species, etc. So what this would require is for groups to go out every five years and do a census.

And so they were just having one of their routine census data collections, and I just emailed them and the rest was history. So I spent I guess two or two and half months or so down there in a little bunkhouse in the rainforest. And then we walked out to this area where we basically IDed and measured, mapped out trees in this large plot of land. And then we’d just come back at the end of the day.

Chris: That sounds so cool.

Ben: Yeah.

Chris: Yeah. Wow. So, guys, just take note, he hasn’t even graduated yet and he’s doing these projects. So this is his third trip and by the time Madrid’s done, he won’t tell you, he’s modest, but he speaks Spanish fluently. Let me tell you, I have heard this guy in a cab in South America and he could give the cab driver directions. He is that good. No, you’re already doing these international projects and you’re studying science and you’re getting that background which is just building this massive, awesome resume that I know you have.

So there’s the three trips. So that’s kind of his study abroad. I know most people, that’s a lot, but looking back, hindsight – and I guarantee if you asked other people they’d wish they would have done more – but he’s the example of it. He really went above and beyond the study abroad. He’s a super study abroad warrior, I think. So you get back. So then you graduate. So then what do you do? Which is a question that a lot of people get. A lot of people graduate and they don’t know what they want to do or what their next step is. What did you have in mind? Where were you going then?

Ben: Well, so immediately after I graduated I actually went to Mexico for another little jaunt.

Chris: I didn’t even know about that one, or forgot about that one. All right.

Ben: Yeah. I went down there. This is another thing. Because I have this thing where I wanted to go every year, I want us to, once a year, go somewhere I could practice speaking Spanish. And so this was a random thing I found online, that was basically we rode around in the ambulance in a town in Guadalajara and then sat on a patio half the weekend and did Spanish one-on-one classes with this really cool guy. We spent some time in the emergency department too, just like putting Band-Aids on people and washing wounds and things like that, really mild stuff like that. Yeah. And then there I stayed at a little motel. And that was about a month or so. And then after that I moved to Chicago for two years with my twin.

Chris: Yeah, which was fun. I was there. So just to fill you guys in, he referenced this earlier, he’s now a doctor, completing his residency. Like most people do, he really had to scrap his way in. I was down there. It was for a party. I don’t think it was New Year’s, but it was something. So he was an EMT driver, or not a driver, but he was in EMT. And we went to a little party at one of your co-workers house. Why don’t you tell them about that? Do you remember that?

Ben: No, no, actually, Chris, I want to hear you tell this.

Chris: It wasn’t New Year’s, was it? It was just this party, right?

Ben: It wasn’t. It was a birthday.

Chris: It was a birthday. But I remember it was a big deal. So Ben, he was an EMT driver, it was the Southside, right? Was it the Southside?

Ben: Yeah, it was 55th and Lake Shore was where the garage was.

Chris: So Ben was an EMT driver, and I was finishing my undergrad in Whitewater at the time. So I popped down to Chicago just to visit Ben and his brother every now and then. And one time, out of the blue, Ben said, “Hey, my co-worker’s having this party. We should go. It’ll be fun.” And I go, “Okay. Yeah, sure.” And so we go to his house. And let’s just say it wasn’t in Lincoln Park or Wrigleyville. Right?

Ben: It was.

Chris: Yeah, so we go there and we’re like, we don’t really know what to expect, right? These three kids coming down and we’re kind of scared, what if something happens? And we ended up going there, and they were just the most hospitable people you could ever imagine. They pulled out all the stops for the party and we ended up having a phenomenal time, I think. Right? You had fun too, right?

Ben: It was great. It was fantastic.

Chris: So, yeah, they had food, they had drinks. It was so much fun.

Ben: Wings and whiskey. They had so many wings.

Chris: So many wings. They had a cake because it was a birthday.

Ben: Yeah, that’s right.

Chris: I started doing a little dancing, I think, as the night got towards the end like I sometimes do. But, yeah, it was just phenomenal. And you never know what you’re going to get with these experiences and that was one of the positives of it, I think. Just fun times like that, right?

Ben: Agreed. Agreed. It was an adventure. It was an adventure.

Chris: Yeah, no, it was an adventure. Well, I’ll just say we were scared going down there, and it ended up being an awesome time. So, moving on. We could probably sit here and tell Chicago stories for a while.

Ben: Yeah.

Chris: Yeah. So then med school’s next. This is cool because I won’t know my guests as well as I do Ben. So Ben went med school next. And he just finished. You didn’t shoot abroad anywhere while you were in med school, did you?

Ben: I didn’t. It’s been less and less of a priority for me, I guess, international stuff at this point.

Chris: Right. But, yeah, we were talking about that earlier, not quite but eventually we’ll get more international. So, you’re a resident and if anyone knows a resident or has a family member that’s a resident in the medical field you know that they work hellish hours. So Ben is extremely busy which is why I’m super grateful that he took the time to do this. But it’s one of those jobs where you get home, you eat something, you play video games, you watch TV for a little bit, you go to bed, and then you’ve got to get up, just insane hours. So that said, is there anything that you work on now, any passion project that you have that you like to do for fun in your spare time?

Ben: There is. Actually, this is funny, right in the background of my screen I got my Ableton up. And I’ve been cranking a lot of hours on Ableton.

Chris: What’s Ableton?

Ben: Ableton is a music production software that basically lets me do mixups and mashups of songs I love. And it’s a creative process. It’s a little tenuous. There’s really minor, minor, minor programming. But it’s all very fun. So, yeah, that’s a little passion of mine.

Chris: So, yeah, Ben’s passion is DJing I should say. Everyone’s got to have a thing that they do, a little hobby. But he’s good. Maybe we could post a link to some of your SoundClouds on here.

Ben: I would love it.

Chris: Yeah, I think we should do that. So we’ve hit his DJ name. What is your DJ name? A lot of thought goes into this, right? Can you share that?

Ben: Of course. My DJ name is DJ Books.

Chris: His DJ name is DJ Books, formerly Ben-jamin.

Ben: Formerly known as, yes.

Chris: Yeah. Which is good. Books goes a long way back. It’s kind of an inside story. But DJ Books is Ben’s handle if you would like to hire him for your next birthday party, wedding, or bar mitzvah.

Ben: You can contact me on SoundCloud.

Chris: Yeah, we’ll definitely link you up. So that’s his jam now. That’s what he’s doing. You’re holding it down in Denver. Gorgeous city, right?

Ben: Beautiful. Beautiful city.

Chris: Yeah. And then the last time I saw Ben we actually had a get-together in Utah, little ski trip, and my haphazardly attempted snowboarding trip.

Ben: You’re getting better.

Chris: Maybe. But, yeah, so that was fun. We still haven’t grown up, really, our friends.

Ben: It’s true.

Chris: But I don’t think anyone does, which was a lot of fun. It was – what was it – Park City, right? Sundance?

Ben: Yeah.

Chris: That was the town. Yeah, it’s Park City, Utah. It was a blast. So onward, and here we go, we’re just marching through this thing. I think it’s a really good interview.

Ben: Yeah.

Chris: Can you share an epic travel story? Something you’d tell at a dinner party?

Ben: Let’s see. Epic travel story – I’m trying to think about the most appropriate one to share in this podcast.

Chris: Yeah, so this is what I tell people, something you’d tell at a dinner party and then you’re going to ask who were the guys at the dinner party.

Ben: Oh, no. That’s a lot harder.

Chris: I’d say push as far as you think you could without incriminating yourself, because remember, this is college students that are listening to this, right? You don’t have to tell them that, like, whoa, well one day I went to the library and I didn’t return the book on time.

Ben: Oh, man. I can tell you a pretty cool near-death experience. I wouldn’t say near-death, but a borderline experience. A buddy of mine and I were skiing at A-Basin. This was three years ago. And it was really early in the season, so the coverage was really terrible. So there’s a lot of hidden obstacles, rocks and sticks coming through. It was at the end of the day, probably at four o’clock. And my friend got courageous and suggested we go out of bounds and try to find some trails. And it ended up being a disaster. And then about an hour later the sun set and we were totally lost, and it was pitch-black, and we had to take off our skis and hike probably four, five miles down a hill.

Chris: Oh, my God!

Ben: And we were falling every six steps. We’d just fall straight down. I lost both my poles and ruined my skis. And then we finally come down probably three or four hours later, and we get to this opening. We haven’t seen moonlight in hours because the trees were covering over us. Finally, the trees open and we look up and there’s this probably 60-foot climb to the road. So we had come all the way down and we had to go up that and then hitchhike back to the parking lot where our car was. And it’s 11:30. And we survived.

Chris: Bro, I’m afraid of the dark in a parking lot. You’re up on an icy mountain trying to get down. It sounds like one of those survival movies or something. Oh!

Ben: It definitely made my heart race a little because I couldn’t keep my feet and I was literally just falling, grabbing stuff on the way down trying to stop myself. So it was like that.

Chris: Where did you say this was now?

Ben: That was in A-Basin at the very top.

Chris: Where is A-Basin?

Ben: It’s in Colorado. It’s one of the ski hills.

Chris: So you still had to travel to get there, right?

Ben: I know, I was thinking.

Chris: No. Dude, that’s probably a better story.

Ben: Yeah, it’s not a good home for us.

Chris: You should tell that. Yeah. So you almost died coming down from a mountain because it got dark. Just to fill you in, Ben is a big outdoors guy. He said his passion is DJing, but you’ll find him camping, you’ll find him skiing, you’ll find him on the water. He’s extremely active and he’s always up to something fun like that. So you’ve got your residency now. I have here on my interview checklist, do you have anything that’s next or anything you want to complete in the future or what are you striving towards or your goal other than completing your residency and becoming a world-renowned DJ who cures the sick?

Ben: Yeah, well, those are all appropriate goals. Those are all goal-worthy. But honestly, one of the things I’m really looking forward to is getting back to traveling. Residency is a time suck, so you never get more than a couple days off here and there. But when I’m done with residency, what my career’s going to look like is a very block-type, shift-type schedule. And so I’ll have a week of work and then a week off of two weeks on, two weeks off. And it’s literally I’m done after my two weeks are up, and I don’t have to come back or think about it for one or two weeks. And that’s regularly how my months will look. So it’s a little bit different than the 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, but you get more chunks of time off and you work hard, play hard.

Chris: Yeah, no, definitely. Didn’t you talk about or is this a thing where you can be a traveling doctor? Am I wrong?

Ben: Yeah. You can.

Chris: All right. So, yeah, I don’t know if that would ever entertain. Just to fill you guys in, Ben’s dad is also a doctor and he resides in Madison, Wisconsin, but he did a, what do we call it, an exchange or he started practicing medicine in New Zealand. It was more than a year, right? It was a while.

Ben: I think it was two years. It’s two years.

Chris: Yeah, he was over there for two years. A lot of work to do that. There’s a lot of red tape. Am I right?

Ben: Yeah, tons of hoops. Tons of hoops.

Chris: Yeah, you can’t just shoot over and start practicing medicine. But for all the med school people out there, that’s kind of a thing. It’s like adult studying abroad for doctors, for long-term. So if you ever want to do that, the option is on the table. Very cool. Thank you. All right, on to the rapid fire questions, Ben. Are you ready?

Ben: I think so. Yeah.

Chris: All right. One book that I recommend is?

Ben: I was going to say Atul Gawande – what’s the title – Being Mortal.

Chris: Being Mortal? Okay. We’ll link some of these up, too. Being Mortal. All right, what’s that about?

Ben: It’s a mix of anecdotes and essay narrative about the process of dying.

Chris: Oh, my God.

Ben: And Atul Gawande is the author. Also, he happens to be a surgeon in Boston. And he’s an incredibly talented writer. He contributes a lot to the New Yorker. And he writes books as well, and this most recent one was about different themes and discussions about the dying process, which is fascinating to me.

Chris: Yeah, as soon as we stop, I’ll send you a link. There’s actually just a great podcast and article I read about death, and this guy has studied all about it and the gist is that as you’re about to die it’s the little things that you really treasure, getting a glass of water, the taste of eggs, that kind of thing that you really recognize. But I’ll send you the link to this. And maybe I’ll link it up in the notes here. So, yeah, that’s the book recommendation. We’ll link that up. Back home would be Madison, Wisconsin, for you. What is your favorite dish from back home?

Ben: Macaroni and cheese.

Chris: Macaroni and cheese. Wisconsin, baby, cheese all the way. Yes. Good answer. All right, macaroni and cheese. You can do the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Spain, Puerto Rico, anywhere you want, what’s your favorite dish abroad? Well, we’ll get into this at the end, but go ahead, what’s your favorite dish abroad?

Ben: I’m going to go with tortilla. Spanish tortilla.

Chris: Tapas, right?

Ben: All about the tapas.

Chris: Yeah. I think that makes for the most fluent conversation. I love it when they keep bringing stuff to you.

Ben: Taste of beans.

Chris: Yeah, little taste of food and it just facilitates the conversation, the service, that there’s always something happening at the table, I think.

Ben: Yeah. Yeah, it’s good food.

Chris: Yeah, I love it. When I walk into a bar I’ll order a...

Ben: A stout, these days.

Chris: All right, that’s the move?

Ben: I’ve been into stouts. That’s the move.

Chris: All right. A stout. And if you could have dinner with one person, who would it be? And I need to rephrase the question, but I figured this out on my last interview. The person is living because this interview may shoot up to the top of all that is internet search and it might get back to this person saying, hey, Ben Beatty wants to have dinner with me, maybe I’ll give him a call or send him an email. So if you could have dinner with one living person, who would it be?

Ben: Interesting. I would say my dad.

Chris: I’ve had dinner with your dad and I agree. Yes. All right, good answer.

Ben: He’s not famous, but I’m just going to stay homeboy.

Chris: Well, you know what? I have a hunch about this. I think you might be able to make that happen.

Ben: Yeah, I appreciate it.

Chris: We might be able to make that happen, yeah. I’m at my happiest when I’m...

Ben: Outside.

Chris: Outside. All right. I think most people are, but yes, that is a good answer. Outside. Especially now, right?

Ben: Oh!

Chris: Yeah.

Ben: Chris, this morning I went skiing at A-Basin and then came back and hit a bucket of balls at the range. Same day, man. It’s a bucket list item for me.

Chris: I hate you. All right. And last but not least, and if you don’t have one it’s fine, but do you have a quote that you would like to share?

Ben: Does it have to be mine?

Chris: No. No, no, no. Like a quote from a guy, the favorite quote. Yeah.

Ben: I’m going to go with a Biggie Smalls quote.

Chris: All right.

Ben: “Only make moves if your heart’s in it. The sky’s the limit.”

Chris: All right. Notorious B.I.G.

Ben: Rest in peace.

Chris: Yeah, Notorious B.I.G., rest in peace. Yeah. Love it. That is a good one. Now I think I’m going to listen to Little Biggie after we hang up here. You put it into my head.

Ben: It’s a good one.

Chris: Yeah. And then following up, I was going through my Vimeo and I wiped my old computer and I still kick myself to this day, but Ben actually also in addition to Dominican Republic, to Madrid, to Puerto Rico, and to Guadalajara he also came down and visited me while I was studying abroad. And we had a blast. He was there for two weeks. And we did Patagonia, Bariloche and also Florianópolis which both of them were tremendous.

And we made a little video while we were down there, which I might have to link up. If our friends see this, they’ll probably kick me because it’s old and they all saw it, but I think it would be cool for everyone to see it. But, yeah, I had a blast. And going off the meals, that’s why I interjected when you were saying your favorite dish abroad because still to this day, two of the best meals I’ve had in my life, one of them was that sushi place we went to in Florianópolis.

Ben: Yeah.

Chris: We tried to figure out the name of it and I think I might call or email the guy who owns the hostel we stayed at to figure it out. But we had the sushi and it was so good.

Ben: It was amazing.

Chris: It was like the fish was caught that day, I think, they said. And best sushi I’ve ever had still.

Ben: Yeah. It was wonderful.

Chris: Yeah. Ben, so anything else you want to add?

Ben: Well, I guess I would leave some parting words to people considering studying abroad.

Chris: Yeah, please do tell us.

Ben: And the position that they might be in academically. And that is to say take your time; that would be my one piece of advice. And there’s absolutely no downside and really only upsides to taking one, two years off between stages of career building. So that’s the last thing I would say. And otherwise, definitely get out of the country as soon as you can.

Chris: Yeah, that’s why this website exists. That’s why the blog exists. You got to do it. I’m actually going to write something about that. Yeah, you’ve got to do it. Ben, thanks again very much for being here. We’ll have to do it again. I am going to stop the recording now. Let’s talk. And hey, guys, thank you so much for tuning in. We’re going to have more of these stories, so just stick around and see what’s up. All right, thank you.

Ben: Cool. Thanks for having me.

Chris: Yep.