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Studying abroad: experiences of food, family, transportation

Jamie Lundergreen

Jamie Lundergreen


Getting lost in the wilderness, meeting exciting people, eating strange foods: it all sounds like something for Indiana Jones. But you don’t have to be Indiana to go on an adventure to extraordinary lands.

Students are leaving their homes and traveling to places all over the world as part of Study Abroad with Boise State. Some of those students were willing to share their stories and experiences, such as getting lost, restaurant troubles, host families and living with locals.


Jamie Lundergreen

Studied: Alicante, Spain

Topic: host family

In spring 2012 Lundergreen, a junior double majoring in psychology and Spanish, made the trek to Spain all alone, but said it was worth it and doing something on her own made her stronger and more independent.

“I really wanted to learn Spanish better,” Lundergreen said. “I had taken Spanish in high school and I took one semester in college, so I always really wanted to go to a Spanish-speaking country, specifically Spain.”

After she heard a speaker talk about Alicante and hearing her mother talk about her experiences in Spain, she was sold on the idea of going to Alicante. While Lundergreen was there she had the opportunity to stay with a host family, and quickly acclimated herself to their schedule and culture.

“The one major thing that pops to mind is their eating schedule because they eat on a lot different schedule than we do,” Lundergreen said. “Breakfast is the same, and then they’ll have a snack usually between breakfast and lunch, and then we wouldn’t eat lunch until two or three and it’s the biggest meal, and then we wouldn’t eat again until nine or ten at night.”

Living with a host family was an irreplaceable part of Lundergreen’s study abroad experience and she said living with a family enhanced her stay in Alicante because she was more exposed to the way of life there instead of keeping her American


Katya Strebkova Harper

Studied: Pau, France

Topic: restaurants and food

Harper, junior international business major, studied in Pau, France.  She originally studied here in the U.S. coming from Russia, and after moving here for good, she decided she wanted to study abroad again.

She said ordering food in Pau was difficult, but got easier after taking some French.

“Going to restaurants and not knowing how to be able to say ‘I would like a menu please, I would like this instead of this,’ was challenging,” Harper said.

When she first arrived, Harper and some friends discovered, at a restaurant, pronunciation matters.

“One time, one of the funniest moments was, butter and beer sound almost the same, and then we were at the creperie and we ordered a crepe with butter and she brought beer instead,” Harper said.  “We had no idea how to explain in French that it was a mistake, so we just had to stick with
the beer.”

“They did have an amazing café on campus, and it would be literally only three euros per person, which would be about I would say five to six dollars for one day full meal lunch,” Harper said. “That included an actual main meal, little dessert and something to drink, not expensive drinks, they also had wine and stuff you could buy, and fancy desserts. It was crazy.

Harper said saying goodbye to all of her new friends
was hard .


Ron Hurrle

Studied: Tokyo, Japan

Topic: transportation

After taking two years of Japanese, Hurrle, a senior English major with an emphasis in linguistics, decided to study abroad in Japan during the 2011-2012 year.  He’d always been interested in the Japanese way of life and was better at learning the Japanese language than Spanish.

In Tokyo, the dorms were off campus, forcing him and the other students to be familiar with the transportation systems of Tokyo. Hurrle lived in Edogawa-ku, which is on the border of the prefecture of Tokyoto and Chiba.

“From our dorm it was a 10 to 15 minute walk to the train station, a half hour train ride, and then another 10 to 15 minute walk to campus.”

But getting around wasn’t always as easy as a single train ride Hurrle revealed. Not being fluent in Japanese was a setback at first, and so getting lost wasn’t surprising.

“I can’t tell you how many times within the first few weeks my friends and I got lost,” Hurrle said. “Because we’re sitting there trying to read the Kanji at the same time we’re reading the English translation, but there’s three different major train companies, and the maps only show that (one) train company.”

The confusion with the different train companies for a foreigner, or gaijin as Hurrle called it, didn’t last forever.

“They have cards, Passmos. The way they have it set up is the Tokyo Metro, the JR line and the Toei system all have an agreement to accept each other’s cards. It’s really cool.”

Even though the first few weeks were more difficult, Hurrle figured things out quickly and was received well by the local people, who could speak to him in broken English.



Ron Hurrle

Ron Hurrle


Katya S

Katya Strebkova Harper