I recently returned from three weeks in Ecuador as part of a travel study course with UW-Whitewater. My favorite part was when we had the opportunity to spend a night with an indigenous tribe living in the Amazon rain forest. I made friends with two teen aged boys who attempted to teach me how to play a conch shell and teach me a game that involved jumping over stakes poked in the ground. I also got a chance to snorkel with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands. The animals have no natural predators and are quite engaging. The trip was exhausting and exhilarating, glorious and grueling. It was a trip of a lifetime and I never would have been able to do it on my own. Sometimes it takes a trip out of the country to make you appreciate things you take for granted about living in the United States. I enjoyed adjusting to some of the differences between South American and North American culture such as milk served at room temperature instead of ice cold, and the unstructured sense of time.
This, hands down, is the best trip I've ever been on. Getting the chance to go to Ireland was really a dream. You get immersed in the culture and get to experience their way of life for 2 weeks and when your time there is done, you find yourself not wanting to leave. Of course you get the chance to do all of the real touristy things like kiss the Blarney Stone, Climb Giant's Causeway, and taste a fresh pint of Guinness straight from the brewery, but there's also free time to do things that you want like shop, check out a pub, or just explore the current city you're in. A prime example of that would be Balintoy or Malinbeg. Although small towns, they offered the most spectacular views. This is honestly a travel study that shouldn't be missed.
I had never ever been out of the United States before, but Italy had always been the first place I wanted to see. Actually getting to experience it was unbelievable! I got to be in the most beautiful place I had ever seen, while meeting some great people and creating unforgettable memories. I learned that I can put myself into new situations and succeed even though it takes time. It was also really nice to delve into a different field of study; I'm a geology/geography major and it was nice to experience the aspects of art and music from the heart of where it all began. Sure it was intimidating not knowing the language spoken or the exact customs to practice, but we all learned and adapted which is something I never had to do on such a big level. I recommend a travel study course to all students no matter what major or interests you may have because there are so many programs/classes to choose from and you will not regret your time abroad! It's a perfect length of travel as well if you are worried about missing a semester of necessary classes (or missing everyone back home)! Your time in a new environment like this is unlike anything you probably ever have done... so go for it.