Traveling in Nice

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I am fortunate enough to have spent four summers in France. The first three stays were informal French-exchanges with a neighbor’s friend. My most recent experience in France was this past summer with the Abbey Road immersion program in Nice. In Nice, I stayed for a month in a dorm with other students and fully immersed myself in the learning and cultural experiences there. A typical day consisted of French class in the morning, an elective in the afternoon (e.g. studio art, photography), and a fun activity in the late afternoon/evening such as going to the beach. The experience was not only educationally stimulating; it was also the perfect opportunity to make some great friends with whom I still stay in close touch. While many of the experiences were organized through the program, we loved the opportunities for independent explorations in Nice. We had to use what we learned “in vivo” and had fun in the process. Leisurely coffee breaks at local cafes, socializing with friends in the “Old Town” of Nice, and shopping were just a few of the things that we did.

It turns out that research on travel corroborates what many of us already know to be true: Travel has a profoundly positive effect on physical and mental health. Studies show that women who vacation twice a year have a much lower risk of heart attack and coronary death than those who vacation every six years. Similarly, men who did not take an annual vacation were more 30% more likely to die from heart disease. In addition, travel is associated with lower blood pressure and helps improve quality of sleep after vacation. The Wisconsin Medical Journal conducted a study in which they found that women who took frequent vacations were less likely to become depressed, tense, or tired. Those women who took infrequent vacations were more at risk for higher levels of stress and less sleep.

We often get so overwhelmed by the stresses and obligatory tasks in our lives that we fail to develop our creativity and allow for new perspectives. Travelers are shown to have a 25% increase in cognitive vigilance tasks after vacationing. There is an increase in cognitive flexibility and depth of thought, allowing a “break from routine” and new creative thinking to surface. According to The Atlantic, creativity is related to neuroplasticity, and “Neural pathways are influenced by environment and habit, meaning they’re also sensitive to change: New sounds, smells, language, tastes, sensations, and sights spark different synapses in the brain and may have the potential to revitalize the mind.”

Travel boosts happiness and satisfaction, no surprise there. It broadens our horizons, increases confidence, and enhances tolerance for uncertainty. Travel is restorative and invigorating.  It allows us to experience different cultures, resulting in a new appreciation for different ways of life. This broadens our perspective of the world. And the people you meet along the way can become friends and/or connections in our work and school lives.

Sometimes, these friendships can even pave the way for new networking opportunities. In fact, my experience in Nice with Abbey Road allowed me to make the connections that ultimately provided me the opportunity to write for this blog!

Top 5 Countries to Get an International Degree

iewDay by day international education gains fame among youngsters. College students tend to continue their studies in a foreign country for different reasons. Their motives include improving language skills, exploring new cultures, connecting with people from all over the world, and of course getting high-quality education. Taking into account student reviews, living conditions and the quality of education, here are best countries to study abroad. Continue reading “Top 5 Countries to Get an International Degree”

How to Prepare Yourself in order to Have a Pleasant Homestay

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Staying with a host family is a very exciting idea. After all, you are going to meet new people, make friends, learn a new language, eat new food, and a host of other things. You actually cannot wait to go stay with them but going about it with a fixed mindset will spoil the fun and make you a pain to your host family. To avoid such a scenario and make your stay enjoyable for everyone, you have to be open-minded and flexible. Use the following tips to get along well with your hosts. Continue reading “How to Prepare Yourself in order to Have a Pleasant Homestay”

Making a Difference through International Education

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When I decided to pursue a degree in education, I never imagined I would end up living and teaching in Costa Rica, Indonesia, Mongolia, or China. During my career as an international educator, I have come to value the experiences that living and working overseas afford. I’ve also witnessed firsthand the impact that international education has on the students at the schools where I’ve worked. In my experience, students at international schools are more apt to celebrate diversity, be open-minded, and have a willingness to understand the perspectives of others – all traits that are extremely beneficial in an ever-growing global world, and ones whose value far transcends the walls of a school. I believe this impact of international education has something to do with the fact that the students and educators come from all over the world, bringing with them a wealth of diverse experiences, traditions, and stories to create a place where differences are as valued as similarities. This exposure to cultural difference, unique perspectives, etc, challenges students’ existing attitudes and promotes open-mindedness and positive personal growth. Much is gained when students are able to meet new people, see new places, and experience cultures different from their own. The learning curve is steep and the results are worthwhile.

Continue reading “Making a Difference through International Education”

College Admissions: New Opportunities

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Top universities pride themselves on creating diverse learning environments where students of different ethnicities and backgrounds can come together. Over the past few decades, colleges have been increasingly more diligent about aiding minority groups, developing affirmative action programs, and creating reliable support systems for all students. However, the college admissions process is still systematically set up so that wealthier applicants and legacies (i.e. children of alumni) are more likely to be accepted into college than their peers in the bottom socioeconomic quartile. Continue reading “College Admissions: New Opportunities”

MORE Zzzz PLEASE

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Sleep is crucial for healthy brain development and overall physical and emotional health. When you sleep, your brain strengthens the neural pathways that synthesize the information you learned that day. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), not getting enough sleep can limit academic success, lead to aggressive behavior, cause one to eat unhealthy foods, intensify the effects of alcohol, increase the use of caffeine and nicotine, lead to drowsy driving and contribute to illness. Not surprisingly, lack of sleep is correlated to depression. According to NSF’s 2006 Sleep in America poll,  Continue reading “MORE Zzzz PLEASE”

Your Brain on Social Media

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Most teens spend their days attached to their phones, the pull of social media so strong they can’t look away. In fact, in the documentary “Screenagers,” researchers explain that the average American teen spends more time on electronic media than they do going to school. Scientists, educators, and parents are not only concerned by the amount of time teens spend online, but also about the impact this screen time has on the brain. Researchers have discovered that social media, in particular, has a far greater effect on the brain than one might imagine. Continue reading “Your Brain on Social Media”