Exchange Tips

How to Adjust to a New Semester After Going Abroad

After spending an incredible summer in Beijing, nothing seemed as daunting as a 7,000-mile journey, 40 hours of traveling, 2 flight delays, and a 1:30 AM arrival time.

Except starting a new semester the very next day.

More than a bit frazzled, a million questions buzzed through my head. How could I make sense of my time abroad and express it to my friends and family? How could I cope with this “reverse culture shock” they told me about? And how could I leverage my international experience to become a stronger student, now that I was back on campus?

If, like me, you’re starting to feel anxious about returning to reality, fret not! I’m here to share some tips on how not to feel out of place after going back to school.

University Library and Study Hall

Time to hit the books. Photo Credit: Thomas Rousing

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Alumni Spotlight

Exploring the Outdoors with Your Camera

At the end of his internship in Texas, Valentin, a Train USA J-1 alumnus and current Ph.D. student at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies, decided to explore the canyons and the southwestern United States. He planned a 14-day road trip through southern Utah and northern Arizona, including five national parks.

Most nights were spent camping, often in the back country. On one night, in particular, he set up camp in the back country of Arches National Park and was fortunate enough to witness our very bright galaxy from within. He used his headlamp to light up the inside of his tent as he captured the Milky Way and other stars in the night sky.

Capturing this moment allowed Valentin to net the top prize in our 2015 Transformed by Travel Photo Contest. We recently caught up with him to learn about his U.S. experience and see what advice he could offer this year’s crop of budding photographers.


Desert Milky Way, First Place Winner of the 2015 Transformed by Travel Photo Contest

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Alumni Spotlight

Gianluca and Deniz on their CBYX Experience in the United States

You can’t always plan for life’s most meaningful moments.

As Gianluca, a German alumnus of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals, puts it: “Don’t forget about the small things in life, like a great sunset. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle of life and forget about the important things. Live in the moment! Put your phone down, leave it at home and go live a little.”

We tend to agree. Recently, we caught up with him and Deniz, a fellow CBYX alum, two of our 2015 Transformed by Travel Photo Contest prize winners, to learn about their U.S. experience and see what advice they could offer this year’s contestants.

gianluca deniz CBYX photo contest

Two CBYX alumni that participated in the Congressional Internship Program were finalists in our 2015 Transformed by Travel Photo Contest.

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5 Lessons Our J-1 Participants Learned During Their U.S. Stay

Interning and living in a new country will give you a new perspective. It’s a chance to explore and immerse yourself in a new culture.

We love hearing how our international exchange programs change perspectives and build connections. Recently, we asked our participants how their perceptions of America have changed after their U.S. exchange programs. In light of recent global and domestic affairs, their reflections leave us inspired and hopeful for positive change.

UK Community Leaders

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Alumni Spotlight

How to Get to Know the World through Photography

Our Transformed by Travel Photo Contest is open to all our current and former exchange participants and alumni. And this year, the stakes are high. The grand prize winner will receive a trip to Washington, D.C. (yes, that includes airfare ✈️) this November to attend FotoWeek, a citywide celebration of photography.

Knowing that this year’s contest will be extra competitive, we recently caught up with Victor, one of our winners from last year’s contest and a 2011-12 alumnus of our Train USA J-1 programs, to get to know him some more and learn the secret behind his prize-winning entry.

2015 Transformed by Travel photo contest Victor Westerwoudt

Mountain Village, Third Place Winner of the 2015 Transformed by Travel Photo Contest. Credit: Victor Westerwoudt

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Family, Food, and Fighting for Justice: Reflections on the 2016 Cultural Vistas Fellowship

This summer, Alexis, Cynthia, and Cruz opened their eyes to new horizons, new cultures, and new experiences as part of the Cultural Vistas Fellowship, a fully funded eight-week internship opportunity for U.S. students in Bangalore, Buenos Aires, and Berlin.

Here’s a little of what they learned, living abroad for the very first time.

Cruz, Alexis, and Cynthia - Cultural Vistas Fellows

Cruz, Alexis, and Cynthia (pictured from L to R) just wrapped up an unforgettable summer living and interning overseas as members of our fourth class of Cultural Vistas Fellows. Now, we need your help to add three more fellowships in 2017 to support more students like them.

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Alumni Spotlight

Alumni Happenings: 3-D Printing, Biking, Rio Olympics

Our alumni are meeting important people, sharing their expertise in influential publications, and attending conferences around the world.

Meet some of our inspiring alumni and find out about our upcoming gatherings we are hosting across the United States.

andrew budsock cybx alum

Andrew Budsock and Nicole Bustamente (CBYX alumni) will be participating in the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations conference in Hong Kong.

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Alumni Spotlight

Eric Paul on How to Make Your Internship an Adventure

Our Transformed by Travel Photo Contest is open to all of our participants and alumni. Instead of just showing you their prize-winning photos, we asked them some questions to get to know them.

This week, we asked Eric Paul, a J-1 intern, for his advice on the photo contest and his internship. Check out his tips and some more of his beautiful photography.

photo contest winner eric paul mount shasta

Eric Paul poses in his prize-winning photo “Given the choice, always choose adventure.”

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How Sister Cities are Strengthening Citizen Diplomacy

Close your eyes and imagine a diplomat. Tell me, what do you see?

Is it a sharply dressed person with a dark suit and a pair of round, thin-framed glasses? Or perhaps someone with a thick binder of talking points? Is this diplomat shaking hands with their counterpart in front of a pair of gracefully draping flags?

Now open your eyes and look in the mirror. The diplomat is you.

I’m talking about citizen diplomacy. Through citizen diplomacy, everyone can be a diplomat.

sister cities los angeles

Which way to your hometown? Photo Credit: Prayitno (No modifications have been made)

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