Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Study Abroad: The Beginning

After waiting so long, it's still hard to believe this day has actually come. I'm been thinking about studying abroad for two years, and have actually worked at it for one. That this is the culmination of all that feels surreal.

While typing, I feel like I know what's going on, but in reality, I'm nervous as all get out. I don't know who I'm living with. I don't know the area. I will have no phone to contact the girl picking me up. I'm afraid my suitcase will magically gain 100 pounds during the flight and I will look stupid lugging it through the train station. I'm afraid of the train station.

But the fact that everyone is so excited for me makes me excited, too.  I can remember any multitude of conversations with the best advisor on earth. The friends who automatically assume that yeah, Kayt can do this. The friend who grabbed me as I walked by to announce to others that I was studying abroad. My parents, who somehow managed to live through the searching and the angsting and were the voice of reason when I was overwhelmed.

It's my trip, but this hasn't been a solo journey to it. The support I've gotten has been the defining factor--not once was I told, "you can't do this," but everyone along the way, from university faculty and staff to my friends and family.

So here we go.

To follow my trip, click the "Germany" label instead of the "study abroad" one, which will be saved for things that are immediately related to the study abroad process.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Study Abroad: Odds and Ends

A major reason I started this blog was to chronicle my upcoming study abroad trip, since I often could not find personal resources when I was searching. This part of a series of posts leading up to my departure.
I have T minus one day until I leave, and since I'm running around like a chicken with its head cut off, this entry is appropriate.
Before you go, make sure you have detailed instructions on how to get from Point A to Point B. If you're meeting anyone, double-check with them again to make sure plans haven't changed (because they can, and they will).

Google for packing tips if you're unsure. Remember to leave about a third of your suitcase empty because you will, inevitably, end up with more than you expect.

Do you have everything set up? A journal, or a blog, or the addresses of people you want to write to?

Have you checked the TSA website to ensure that yes, you are allowed to have nail clippers in your carry-on? Have you backed up your computer? Have you called your credit card company to let them know it'll be you, not a thief, using your card halfway across the planet? Are you panicking yet?

Sadly, I will also miss the kittens, who will be gone when I return.

This is it, the culmination of the months of searching, re-searching, weeding, phone tag with university officials, advisory meetings, checking transcripts and accredidation, and everything else.

So what now? Try to relax, and get ready for an adventure!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Study Abroad: I'm Accepted, Now What?

A major reason I started this blog was to chronicle my upcoming study abroad trip, since I often could not find personal resources when I was searching. This part of a series of posts leading up to my departure.

I've been accepted! Now what? Once accepted, there's almost a feeling of being overwhelmed, even though at the same time you may feel as though there's nothing to do now that your search is over

First, check whatever your program gives you. Many sites will have a portal or homepage once you've been accepted--don't delay and make sure you investigate! There is paperwork to be filled out--lots and lots of paperwork. I'll skip over the details, since each program will be different and, at least in USAC's case, explain things clearly.

But non-paperwork stuff? Where do you begin? Do you know anything about where you're traveling? One of the documents provided to me listed helpful websites, including some about Luneburg. Check them out. You gain nothing by ignoring them, unless your goal is to make yourself look ignorant.

If possible, contact former students. My program advisor was able to provide me a list of previous students whom I emailed with things that I still didn't know:
*How much German did you use in everyday life?
*The website includes an estimate of money you'll spend, do you think it's accurate?
*Concerns about transportation?
*Since we had to fill out housing preferences, where would you recommend living?
*What do you wish you had known before, or what didn't the program tell you that you wish you'd known?

And since you're emailing people, if you have (or can obtain) a list of other participants for your stay, there's safety in numbers! If you're arriving, as I will be, away from where you'll be staying, see if you can meet up with at least one other person. You'll have someone else who's feeling as awkward as you, not to mention they may be awesome at reading maps.

Also you can use them as basilisk bait

 And again...research, research, research! Other countries often have different plugs/voltage, so check on that. Try to find out cultural differences between your country and your host country. Hit up travel or study abroad websites and groups asking for common mistakes or advice--do you tip? Is the "OK" gesture obscene?

Lastly, try not to panic. It can be hard to avoid, but at least try to.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Ephemera: Let Them Eat Cake

Friday Ephemera time! Aren't you lucky--you got me on time TWO weeks in a row!

Since the food post from a few weeks ago was hugely popular with everyone who read it*, I must direct you to:


Foodie or not, you'll love this site. Professionally-made cakes (yes, people paid for these) that, well, aren't made in the best taste, shall we say? Updated every day with "Sunday Sweets" to remind you what good cakes actually look like, author Jen is amusingly witty and unlike other photo-blog sites, tries to keep this one family friendly (good luck the the naked baby shower cakes).

And the most mesmerizing video I've found to date: "Gelatin cubes dropped onto solid surface" in slow-mo.

*Approximately two people, both related to me.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Ephemera: We Write Good!

It is Friday, which means Friday Ephemera, my usually-weekly post of whatever I happen to find in the annals of the internet!

If it's a dark and stormy night, head on over to, named after the author who wrote that now-infamous line. The site celebrates all things dramatically cheesy and purple prose-y, with a yearly writing contest to write a similarly-bad opening sentence, and reader submissions of published work that probably needed another editor.

This video is of a bootleg Vietnamese version of Pokemon Crystal. Even if you have no interest in Pokemon, it's worth watching for the mutilated English. Do you change fire elf into  "a big wind of fire"?

Remember: There are many secrets inside to know these riddles. I do a investigation for everday.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Study Abroad: Weeding and Deciding on a Program

A major reason I started this blog was to chronicle my upcoming study abroad trip, since I often could not find personal resources when I was searching. This part of a series of posts leading up to my departure.

It can be hard to find programs, but once you do you've got a different problem: weeding all the ones you've discovered to leave your top choices.

Once I narrowed my focus to three countries (Japan, Germany, Spain), I agonized for days about which program was the best. Eventually, my solution (thanks to parents who are, thankfully, a bit more level-headed than I) was to set a few ultimatums when it came to the program I would do. These were:

1) It had to have the dates listed and said dates had to coincided with my availability of late May-mid August
2) It had to be $3500 or less, and
3) Courses had to be in English, and they had to be courses I could take.

"Duh," I can hear you saying. "Those are some pretty important points to ignore."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

[Insert Cat-Pun Relating to Distraction]

There has been something of a distraction in the Kayto household for the past few days, with no end in sight. The culprit?
Who found my old Beanie Babies?

Teeny-tiny little bundles of fuzz, four of 'em! They're twelve days old at this point, so their eyes are open(ish), though the internet assures me they're not actually seeing much right now. They track me when I'm with them, though.

The tabby is Gypsy, a cat from the animal shelter where my sisters have volunteered for the past two years. The shelter can't adopt out kittens until they're seven weeks old, so until then we're fostering them. She Who Must Be Obeyed, our previously-feral cat who hates other felines with a passion, doesn't seem to have noticed them yet. It helps that they're staying in our store room in the basement, behind several doors that are hard to breach without opposable thumbs.
Do I sense insubordination?

The kittens aren't actually old enough to be fun yet. You pick them up, and they mew for their mother after they decide your chin isn't soft enough to cuddle. They're fun to watch, though. Their jerky, uncoordinated movements are reminiscent of animatronic puppets as they worm over each other in search of...something. Or nothing, most of the time.
But, you know, kittens. It's hard not to go aaawwwwwww every time I walk in the room. And it is entertaining to see how they end up. I can't count how many times I've walked in to see three of them lying next to Gypsy, in a row, and just as I start to panic about the fourth being hidden in a suitcase or something...nope, it's just being slept on top of. 
I'm pretty sure kittens of this age don't actually have to breathe yet. That's how they're able to survive when being smothered by two siblings/three siblings/their mother.
For daily kitten updates, pictures, and a lovely video featuring my foot (possibly with kittens), see my sister's blog: A Cornucopia of Kittens.
What's that? Another picture? Well, since you insist.


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