Hopefully some decent answers to your questions!!!

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Hey all (again)!!! Thank you to everyone for their questions about studying abroad and APO. I really enjoyed reflecting on them and was able to come up with a few responses, so I hope they help!

1. Have you found that being a member of APO has benefited you in other facets of your life?

Yes! APO has been a great conversation starter especially when meeting new people outside our campus community. When I was flying out of Dulles airport to head off on my study abroad semester I met up with 20 or so other students and it was one of those slightly awkward "hey, what's your name/major/college/etc" introductions. But...with more digging I found out that two of the people in my group were also in APO on their campuses! One of the girls and I have stayed close and have been able to bond about our experiences related to APO. Honestly it was nice to make a friend so quickly especially not really knowing anyone else.  
Being associated with a group like APO is also a great resume builder and networking tool. While I love the brotherhood for the community and the commonality in interests, it is helpful to have this listed on your resume when you apply for jobs or internships. In my experience someone associated with your employer either knows someone who was in APO or they themselves are an alumnus. In interviews this can be especially helpful because it connects you to something and you are more likely to be remembered after the interview. 

2. What's one thing that's surprised you since you've been abroad?

Honestly I'm surprised by how challenging it can be at times. I have traveled a lot on my own before and thought that that made me very prepared for these four months away. Reality check: it didn't. It can be lonely at times- you are without immediate connection to your family, friends, home, everything that has been normal for some time. But this means that study abroad becomes (as someone here told me) college on steroids. You have to go through the whole freshmen ice breaker thing again with meeting people and it takes about a month to adjust to new friends, classes, and on top of that, a new culture. 
Even though I've said that I don't want to think you that I haven't had a rewarding experience. This semester has been one of the most important, if not the most important, period in my life thus far. You get to become completely immersed in a new place- understanding the people (from how they order coffee to what they do on public transport- and here public transit was initially awkward for me), learning about the food (this is crucial), and figuring out how you fit into this new society. 
I had heard from other people who have studied abroad that you really learn a lot about yourself during this semester and it actually is so true! I'm not gonna write that all out here (but feel free to ask me when I'm back if you'd like!). Sometimes it can be frustrating because for a while I was learning more about what I didn't like, but that is a hidden gift in its own way! Studying abroad is what you make it- what you put in, you get out- so my advice is to accept that not everything will be perfect and amazing. Some days will be hard, maybe even some weeks but if you appreciate the little things and challenge yourself to learn from your mistakes and try new things you can and will have an amazing experience!

3. How has APO affected your experience abroad, if at all?

It is great that this blog is a thing and that pledges are interested in connecting with abroad brothers! I have continued following posts on the facebook pages and through emails but aside from that I haven't been too impacted. Luckily my awesome little and grandlittle added two new people to our line so I have been invested in hearing about the pledge class and the going-ons of the semester. 

4. What do you miss most about home/APO?

This could very quickly become a long answer so I'll try to keep it short haha
I miss my family and my amazing roommates (5212!!!). For me it was kinda weird to see pictures of big little week and events like that because I miss doing those things along with service projects! Thursday night meetings were another weird thing for me to adjust to not having because for two years my Thursday's at 7 have been reserved for APO, so not having plans was strange.
Aside from missing people and the norm of my life back home I really miss goldfish. They are my favorite snack and I have still not found them in Europe. I guess being abroad helps you recognize the small things you appreciate!

I hope that answered some of your questions, but please let me know if you have any more! Vi sees! 

Saludos desde the Southern Hemisphere!

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Hola, hermanos (brothers) y prometidos (pledges)!!

I miss you all dearly! <3 My name is Emilio Rivera, and I'm currently studying abroad in Santiago, Chile. :) I pledged last semester, belonging to the fabulous Bastard C-Dubs family! I am a third year at the University of Maryland, studying Public Health Science and Spanish with a pre-health focus.

I'll be honest - I knew very little about Chile before I came to study here. My criteria for studying abroad were simple: I wanted a reasonably-priced trip (since I'm a broke college student), a lesser-known program (so that I could really be challenged outside of my comfort zone), and a Spanish-speaking country (because Spanish is totes awesome). The Santiago program aligned with my desires, so my selection was clear. Yet, little did I anticipate how life changing my experience in Chile would be, how beautiful and diverse the Chilean culture and environment are, and how wonderfully distinct the country truly is.

As cliche as it sounds, every day is a new adventure. I'm always challenged to speak Spanish, not just in my classes (which are ALL taught in Spanish), but with my host family and with the local Chileans. At first it was overwhelming and totally humiliating to make mistakes, but I lost my embarrassment immediately, and now it's so cool to see how confident I've become while speaking the language. Additionally, living in a city proved to be a struggle. Santiago holds 65% of Chile's population - that's around 6 million people. Coming from a small town like Frederick, it was a shock. Yet I've learned to appreciate the metropolitan vibe that the city offers and fully immerse myself - transforming into a Chilean version of Carrie Bradshaw of Sex & the City <3

In summary, I'm so grateful to have had this experience. I highly recommend studying abroad to anyone interested if he/she has the opportunity, even if it's just a summer or winter immersion.  You garner an appreciation for cultures other than your own, which is an invaluable perspective to have. Moreover, you learn so much about yourself and really transform into a more mature and independent adult. I'm thrilled to return to the US knowing that all of the lessons I've gained and memories I've made here in Chile will come back with me. :)

If anyone has specific questions about studying abroad or Chile, please don't hesitate to reach out to me! I can't wait to meet y'all, pledge class Spring '15!


In case y'all didn't know (because I surely didn't):

1) Chile is one of the longest countries in the world. To give some context, if you were to align Chile at the center of the US, the northern Chile would extend through a little of Canada and southern Chile would extend through Mexico. Take a look for yourself.
Because of it's length, Chile has many different climates. Southern Chile is literally like USA Pacific Northwest - lots of green and rain! However the north is completely arid, which leads me to my next point.....

2) Chile contains the driest desert - the Atacama - which I'll be going to on Wednesday!!!

3) Chile is the thinnest country in the world. There is a joke here that claims Chile is the ideal tourist destination because in the morning, you can go skiing in the Andes mountains (the east) , drive an hour to Santiago for lunch and wine tasting, then drive drive another hour to the coast to finish your day off at the beach. It's SO true!

3) Chile has the most seismic activity in the world -- a.k.a. EARTHQUAKES. Chile holds the record for several of the largest earthquakes in history. I've already experienced two very small earthquakes, called temblores.

4) Mayonnaise in Chile is like butter or ketchup in the US. Chileans eat it with everything!

5) Most Chilean teens/young adults have tattoos and/or piercings. Seriously, I feel like it's a right of passage.

6) Chilean slang is so abundantly used that it's received its own term: modismos chilenos.

7) Primetime nightlife occurs AFTER midnight, seven days a week.

8) I am presently closer to Antarctica than I am to MD!


Big/Little Reveal

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Although our Abroad Brothers are miles away...families are still growing here at home! Epsilon Mu's Big/Little Reveal was this past Thursday. Be sure to find out the newest additions to your lines. Recognize any new faces??

Hi from the Happiest Place in the World!

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Hi brothers and pledges! My name is Kimberly Gregory and am a brother studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark for the spring semester. I pledged Spring '13 and am a Bastard Orphan (aka best family ever)!!!

I am a rising senior studying Family Science and Sociology. After I graduate I plan to go onto graduate school to get my Master's in Education and Certificate in Teaching. Because I am not an education major at UMD I really wanted to expand my knowledge of child development and growing diversity in schools so I chose to come to Denmark where the model of education is significantly different than ours. Here I am able to work in a public school (9th grade classes) so I can really get the hands-on experience of working in the Danish classrooms. I was also able to travel with my class to Istanbul, Turkey to tour some schools there.

In addition to my child development practicum I am taking a class on European Film (we are watching some really "interesting" things...), Gender and Sexuality, and then a Danish Language class. I promise you that I do not know much Danish because it is very hard to learn but I can say a few small things (you are welcome to quiz me when I come home).

Studying abroad is an experience that I would highly recommend to anyone, even if it is for a shorter term like Summer or Winter. You really get the opportunity to be immersed into a culture different than your own, meet tons of new people, and try things you never thought you would.

 Please feel free to ask me any questions or just write back introducing yourself! I look forward to meeting the new pledges next semester and seeing all of my brothers!

(These are just two of my favorite pictures from around the city- the first is Rosenborg Castle on a sunny day, which are kind of rare here! The second is of one of the canal streets near the Parliament Building.)

Where in the World is APO?

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Check out this interactive map to see where our brothers are studying!


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Welcome to APO-EM Abroad! Here you will find posts written by brothers of the Alpha Phi Omega, Epsilon Mu Chapter. Many of our brothers participate in Education Abroad at the University of Maryland. These posts will express their experiences abroad with our brothers back at home. Enjoy!

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