Joscelyn Mathis

Location:  Croatia
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Term Abroad: Summer '16

Majors: Human Resource Management; Management; International Studies

Was your study abroad program as you expected? 

Yes and no.  I had a great experience but it was slightly different and we did not get to stay with our host families as planned.

How did the study abroad program fit with your required coursework?  

I am a Master Social Work student.  The Croatia experience was an elective for the leadership concentration.   

What was your first impression upon your arrival?  

My first impression was 1970’s US.  We had to be taxied to the building and upon entering the building it was very smoky.  They are allowed to smoke in public place there. 

What type of housing did you stay in?  

If homestay, please elaborate on your experience with a host family.  The first half of the experience we stayed in the Palace Hotel in Zagreb.  The second half was in a house in Pirovac, Croatia.

What courses did you take? What did you do for your program? Did you speak with your advisor prior? 

Practice in post-war communities.  We meet with local NGOs to learn about what their organizations were doing in the community.  We talk about what the organization did before and after the war.  We worked with the mayor in Pirovac to create a tourist brochure.  I had a very short conversation with my advisor as part of my planning for the following semester.  I did not talk to her specifically about Croatia.  

What type of advice can you give for preparing for your study abroad trip (i.e. packing, money, etc.)?  

Pack an outfit in your carry-on, I liked the blowup travel pillow because you can let the air out and store it better, you only need about half of the clothes that you are taking with you.  If you have to have a face towel pack some with you.  I had three types of currency on me at all times (US dollars, Croatian kuna, and my credit card).  Pack kleenex, wet ones and hand sanitizer (not a ton just enough in case of an emergency).

What type of additional traveling did you do, if applicable? How did you go about it?  

 I stayed in Zagreb for two extra days.  I booked my hotel before leaving the US.  When we returned to the hotel i let the desk know that I had an additional reservation and they let me stay in my room instead of moving to a single.  

What was it like talking and interacting with the local population?  

Many of the people spoke English so it was fine.  I did find a few people in Pirovac who spoke German.  It was really exciting to talk to them.  

Did this trip ( This is not a trip this is a learning experience) reaffirm your career goals? Did it change them? What skills did you learn on this trip that will help you?  

This experience did affirm my career goal.  While in Zagreb we went to an NGO that is working with survivors of torture and I really connected with this organization.  My career objective is to work with survivors of trauma (specifically military personnel).  

What advice would you give to students who want to study abroad?  

GO! If you really want to do it and are torn put it into the universe and let the universe guide you.  If it is for you it will happen, but you have to be absolutely clear about what you want.