Study Abroad Bucket List: Asia Edition
College Life |  Source: @marjramos

Study Abroad Bucket List: Asia Edition

Wanderlust but still Zen.

If you get to study abroad, you're pretty lucky. If you get to study abroad somewhere in Asia, you're even luckier.

Every country (and province and city) has unbelievable cuisine, vibrant cultural sights, charming people, unbelievable nature, and fun night life. Anywhere you go there is so much to do and see and eat and drink.

If you're studying in Asia for a semester, you're probably also kind of cool. If you chose your destination for something a little off the beaten path from typical study abroaders, you clearly value adventure and exploration. You might also have had language study in mind when applying to your study abroad program, which means your bold and diligent (hello new alphabets) and set on opening your world wider with the skill of foreign conversation. Either way, for any reason you chose Asia, you're lucky you did because it is awesome.

During your time on the Asian continent, take advantage of every opportunity you can to live. To help keep your wanderlust spirit excited and motivated, I've created a list of things to do before you leave. While neither an exhaustive list nor necessary items for experiencing the different cultures, the Asian study abroad bucket list will, nonetheless, keep you exploring.

  1. Get a Shanghai style foot massage in Shanghai
  2. Master eating with chopsticks
  3. Make like Michael Phelps and do Chinese Cupping
  4. Go to an ethical elephant sanctuary and play with the elephants
  5. Go to a Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan
  6. Get certified in scuba diving
  7. Climb the Great Wall in Beijing
  8. Celebrate Chinese New Year with locals (anywhere in Asia!)
  9. Wake up and watch the fish auction at the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo (and then eat sushi for breakfast)
  10. Gamble (and eat egg tarts) in Macau
  11. Visit the Taj Mahal
  12. Explore Angkor Wat at sunrise
  13. Learn to make dumplings
  14. Swim in Luang Prabang in Laos
  15. Trek Mount Rinjani in Indonesia
  16. Take a cooking class to learn how to make curry
  17. Buy rolled ice cream
  18. Go to any and all of the Disneylands (Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai)
  19. Dress up and go to Harajuku in Tokyo
  20. Visit the Tegalalang Rice Terrace in Bali
  21. Tour the Tea Terraces at Maokong in Taipei
  22. Master the Squatty Potty Situation
  23. Get custom clothes made
  24. Cruise the islands of Halong Bay by boat
  25. Attend a sumo wrestling tournament in Japan
  26. Buy and wear face masks in South Korea
  27. Ogle at pandas in Chengdu
  28. Explore the world's oldest rainforest, Taman Negara National Park, in Malaysia
  29. Take a tuk tuk ride
  30. Take pictures of the cherry blossoms in China or Japan
  31. Visit the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery in Hong Kong
  32. Go to a music festival in the Mongolian desert
  33. Do a meditation or yoga retreat in India
  34. Visit the Puerto Princesa Underground River in the Phillippines
  35. Trek part of the Himalayas
  36. Celebrate Holi in India
  37. Visit Bhutan
  38. Get full on street food for under $10
  39. Explore a Bamboo Forest in Kyoto
  40. Go on a hot air balloon ride in Myanmar
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(Cheap) Culinary World Tour

Expand your palate, children.

If you're sick of just eating pizza and stir-fry, it's time to expand your palate. And this is the perfect way to do it. We're talking different cultures, cheap ingredients, and impressive names. Perfect for cooking for your boo or just making sure you don't gain the freshman fifteen. Time to step it up, fuckers.

Greek - Gyro

All you need to do for this one is get some chicken, onion, tomato, spinach, feta cheese, and pita. You dice up your protein and grill that shit, then cut up your onions, fry them up, add the spinach, cooked chicken, and feta and then throw it all in the pita. If you are using pita in general, you're way ahead of the game. Killing it.

Italian - Eggplant Parm

Eggplant is much more than just the emoji that means penis. Eggplant is an unsung hero. Skin it, dip it in egg and then flour and throw it into some burning oil. Once you have it nice and fried, stack it with some sauce and cheese and throw it in the oven. You could make a side of pasta to serve it over and hook up the meal with a great bread choice. The vegetarian option will win you the hearts of animal lovers everywhere.

Mexian - Spanish Rice

This is almost like a stir-fry but it will definitely be an improvement from constant teriyaki bullshit. For this you boil your rice, cook up some ground beef, and then throw in whatever vegetables you want. Some fan favorites are onions and peppers supplemented with wild cards like mushrooms and black beans. And then hook it all up with some shredded cheese. Fantastic.

Japanese - Katsudon

Katsudon just sounds impressive. If you could make that shit, you must know a thing or two about cooking. Just bread and deep-fry a pork (or chicken) cutlet, cut up some vegetables, put it over some rice and then add a tasty egg to complete the dish. Easy meals, big taste, low budget.

Ethiopian - Shiro

Since I was just kicking it in Ethiopia, I figure I would share the one dish I learned. It's insanely cheap and easy and delicious. You chop tomatoes, onions, and garlic and boil them with some water. Then you add chickpea powder to make it a paste before you blend the fuck out of it and make it a soup. Serve it over rice and you're golden! You are now officially a globe-hopping chef supreme.

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Why I Chose to Study Abroad My Freshman Year

No, I won't miss out on the one night stands.

When I tell people, "I'm studying in Florence, Italy for my freshman year of college", I often receive two general responses: "Why the fuck would you do that and miss out on your freshman year?" or "OMG that's so cool. You're going to have so much fun. I'm so jealous."

Even though the first response can be discouraging, it's my favorite to respond to.

Why did I decide to study abroad for my freshman year?

For one, not a lot of schools offer freshmen the opportunity to study abroad. Unlike schools that offer a study abroad program freshman year like Northeastern, Marist doesn't force you to study abroad for a semester due to a lack of space on campus; Marist allows freshmen the choice to. I chose to apply to Marist's Freshman in Florence Program (FFE) because I chose to have a unique freshman year.

After spending four years of high school at an elite all-girls prep school, I wanted to do something different. I've already lived in a dorm for four years, survived eating food in a dining hall for four years, and have understood the challenges of being an independent student over the course of four years. Why not up the stakes and be a student in a foreign country?

In addition, I don't feel like I'll be missing out on typical freshmen parties, one-night stands, and transition to living away from home because I've never gotten drunk or have the urge to go out during the week; I like to genuinely know and care about the person I sleep with. And, I've already experienced living away from home (including an extremely homesick freshman year).

Studying in Florence fits perfectly with my major: communications. I'll gain a global perspective as a comm major that I wouldn't in Poughkeepsie, NY as a freshman. Not that everything is about resumes, studying abroad freshman year will set me apart from other students when I apply for internships and jobs. Sure, thousands of juniors and seniors study abroad, but thousands of freshmen don't study abroad on a given year.

I've never been to Europe! Living in Florence for a year will give me access to a culturally rich city, country, and continent. I can't wait to learn Italian, study in a new environment, cook for myself in my apartment, dip into the Mediterranean Sea, taste wines at Italian vineyards, eat delicious food, and visit my relatives in Germany. It's much cheaper to travel in Europe, and I've already brainstormed places that will satisfy my craving for wanderlust.

Sure, there will be plenty of obstacles while I'm abroad and a challenging transition back to Marist's campus in Poughkeepsie sophomore year. But as students and young adults, we are constantly encouraged to take chances. For me, studying abroad my freshman year is one I don't want to miss. I hope you'll consider the same.

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What I've Learned From Seeing the World

The best part? The people.

When I was 15, my mom passed away after a 10-month battle with colon cancer. It was the absolute worst heartbreak I have ever experienced. I'm convinced she was the greatest mom in the entire world. She devoted all her time to volunteering and was so beautiful and kind that everyone from guys at my high school to the McDonald's employee that made her coffee every morning both gawked and felt like they had known her for ages.

In her final hours, with my sisters and me by her side, my mom's last words were telling my siblings and me to "see the world." Fast forward four years and many miles traveled later, this is what I've learned:

The best part will be the people.
From Costa Rica to England to New York City, my favorite part of every trip has been the friendships I've made. At each destination, it amazes me just how wonderful the human spirit is. I sound corny, but other people are the reason I have healed.

If you can travel, go somewhere that's not luxurious first.
My first trip after losing my mom was to Costa Rica, where I stayed in a tiny shack with a host family. Living with next to nothing, the people there were the happiest I've ever met. Their motto was "Pura Vida," which means pure life. I realized how much I had relied on things to try to be happy, and how freeing it is to let go.

There's no time limit.
If you want to see the world, don't worry if you can't go now. But I think it's important to always have a plan for a trip you're excited about and saving for (mine is to take my grandma to Australia).

You're not going to find yourself anywhere.
You will learn a lot about yourself. It's just about letting your best parts show. That's where people like my mom get their "inner light," from, becoming more of who they already are.

You can see a lot of the beauty in the world without going too far.
For the first years after losing my mom, I stayed close to home with the people that loved and knew my mom best. What I learned from hearing their stories, sharing memories, and fighting through heartbreak was that there is so much damn beauty in this world, and you don't have to spend a dime to see it.

If you can't travel, try this. See the world from a new perspective: notice how thankful you are for family, appreciate the landscape you've always seen in a new way, love the life that's passing by so quickly like it's all you've got.

The big adventure, the journey you've been waiting to go on, this is it, and it's too precious to waste a second.

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Summer Bucket List: East Coast Edition

Take advantage of the time off, if you have it.

Ah, summer--a time of bliss, and a three-month-long period of glorious nothingness and ultimate freedom. The summers you spend in college are some of the best summers you'll have in your life.

Well, not for me. I unfortunately attend a hellhole, otherwise known as Drexel University, where the trimester system rules, our summers are ripped from our hands, and we are rapidly forced into adulthood. I love Drexel, but I need summer. Being a 15-credit student this upcoming summer term, I've decided to make a bucket list to ensure that even though I'll be in class, fun comes first.

Stop what you're doing, grab your peeps, start a group chat, and embark on the best summer of your life; east coast edition.

1. Check out Live Nation for all of your music needs. From rock festivals to EDM shows, they have every ticket you need. Some renowned music groups are going on tour of summer 16, like Guns N Roses, Blink-182, G-Eazy, Kenny Chesney, Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem, and more.

2. Take day trip to the beach. Whether it's the Jersey Shore, OC Maryland, the Outer Banks--whatever floats your boat. Grab a group of friends and pack your bags for a long weekend vacay.

3. Do a drink exchange! Like a cookie exchange, but with alcohol. Have each of your friends bring a different special drink, and host a cocktail party! Check out the Tipsy Bartender for some fun and creative drink ideas.

4. Take a road trip to Nashville, TN. It's a feasible drive from almost anywhere on the east coast, and there's plenty to do once you get there. Go to some famous bars like Tootsie's or Legend's Corner for a live country music show, or try The Loveless Cafe for real southern cooking.

5. Take a trip to a nearby winery! One of the best wineries on the East Coast is the Jefferson Vineyard. You and your friends can sign up for a wine tasting tour throughout the vineyard!

6. No pool? No problem. Set up a slip-n-slide, which you can purchase for under $50, and have a mini slip-n-slide party! Walmart sells a variation of slip-n-slides, and you and your friends can go in on one together to last the whole summer. You can also try a slip-n-slide drinking game, like drunken "Slip n Flip".

7. Do a co-ed campout. Whether it's in your backyard, or deep in the woods somewhere, everyone likes a good campfire! Bring supplies for s'mores, a cooler of beer, a music speaker, and boom--you have a campfire party. Summer is really the only time you can sleep outside without freezing to death, so take advantage of the warm weather and clear skies!

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Should You Study Abroad?

Do it. That is all.

Studying abroad is a goal of mine that I won't let go of no matter what people tell me. I've spent hours upon hours researching where to go, how much it's going to cost, and how to make that happen.

Everything about Australia amazes me. One day I just Google searched "Australia" and ended up spending hours with my face glued to the computer screen in complete awe. I went to meeting after meeting and gathered as much information as I could before finally presenting the idea to my parents and gaining their blessing. Details still need to be worked out but fingers crossed that I'll be spending my spring semester of next year in Australia- trust me, plenty of articles to follow.

If you're thinking about going abroad, do it. I can't tell you it's going to be the best time of your life. I haven't even gone yet, but I can tell you that the pros of studying abroad will most likely outweigh your cons.

I'm terrified to go abroad and to completely engulf myself in an entirely new culture, but I've never been so damn ready for this. If you're on the fence about whether or not to study abroad, I bet I can guess some reasons why because I was there too.

It's going to be more expensive than a typical semester at your normal college.
This actually might not be true, but in most cases- it is. I'm not someone who takes finances lightly and I'm definitely not someone who gets all their money from their parents. I work for my money, I'm taking out loans to pay for school, and I'm prepared to pay for those loans in the future.

There are affordable study abroad programs and there are so many scholarships and financial aid available to help you get there. I recommend checking out USAC study abroad programs focus on taking you to smaller cities outside of the major cities in order to attain a more affordable cost of living. Step 1 is checking to make sure your university is a partner with them.

Leaving your friends and family scares the shit out of you.
I thought about this a lot. What if my friends get way closer with each other and forget about me? What if my boyfriend finds someone better than me? What if I can't handle being apart from them for that long?

If your friends forget about you, then they aren't your real friends. Your real friends and family will encourage you on this once in a lifetime opportunity and hopefully even visit you! As for your significant other- if he/she finds somebody else while you're gone then forget them. Life's too short for that shit. Life is about challenging yourself and stepping out of your comfort zone, don't let others hold you back from your true ambitions.

What if I get there and end up hating it?
This can happen, but you're not going to know if you don't try. I've heard horror stories of people going abroad and hating it and being stuck there for four months. All I can say is you know yourself better than anybody else, if you truly think you won't be able to make the best out of a thrilling opportunity- then that's your call.

I'm naturally introverted and I'm not one to go out and make new friends immediately or be the life of the party. I take time to warm up to people and I take time to step out of my comfort zone, but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I would never want to pass up. If you go and hate it, at least you can say you went and gained something from your time abroad.

The list of cons is long, but the list of pros is endless.

It's an amazing experience.
It looks great on a resume.
It builds character.
It breaks introverts like me out of our shells.
It lets you experience the word through the eyes of a completely different culture.
It will broaden your outlook on life.
You'll get some insanely cool pictures.
Everyone will be jealous of your social media posts.
It'll give you the chance to write some pretty fucking cool blog posts if you're into that type of stuff.
You can meet new people who might change your life.

Really, the list goes on forever, but no one has time for that.

Maybe I'm an overly positive opportunist, or maybe I'm just ready to experience something new and see what else this wonderful life has to offer me. If you clicked on this article then obviously some part of you is interested in traveling. Take those first steps and just look into studying abroad and where you would want to go. The world is at your fingertips.