Welcome to the Pitt SAO blog! Whether you still need to be sold on study abroad, you're already planning your trip, or you're back home and want to make sure you get the most of your experience, there's something here for everyone! To submit a post to be published on our blog and social media platforms, click here.


Monday, November 6, 2017 - 11:33

Essential Apps for Study Abroad
Submitted by Sarah Kopczynski

When starting your study abroad adventure, there is often an overload of adjustments and protocols. Between regular arrival procedures and orientation meetings, you also have to purchase a phone plan or a track phone for international use. In order to make your transition abroad as smooth as can be, here is a list of some useful apps you can use while adjusting to your new destination (and as an additional perk, they’re all free!).


  • WhatsApp & Viber – Both of these apps are essential for study abroad, as it makes communication with friends and family from home much easier. Both apps run
Monday, November 6, 2017 - 11:48

Amazing Live Music Venues Abroad
Submitted by Valerie Quickel

One of the best ways to truly immerse yourself in your host country is to go and see live music. Whether this means attending huge festivals with thousands of people or going to see a soloist at a small pub, it’s a great way to get involved and surround yourself with the locals.

Besides the music, going to see a live show also gives you the opportunity to visit world-famous venues. To give you some ideas, here’s the low-down on a few venues that are definitely worth checking out while you’re abroad:

1. London - Royal Albert Hall: This theatre has hosted nearly every big name in music, and is

Monday, November 6, 2017 - 12:07

Mingling with the Locals
Submitted by Elsie Zuch

Making friends abroad can be hard. And if you’re not taking any courses at a host country’s university (I’m looking at you, Panther Program people), it can be even more difficult to make local friends. Traveling in packs with other Americans can be fun, but it keeps you in your comfort zone. So let’s get you out of that comfort zone and mingling with some locals!

  • Take a class. Whether be cooking, crafting, or exercising, just do it. It will be scary and you will feel uncomfortable, but it will also be wonderful for you. I took a ballet class in Paris and it was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done but I don’t regret it for a minute. Going to a concert or a movie is also a great way to meet locals.

Monday, November 6, 2017 - 12:12

Study Abroad Networking 101
Submitted by Valerie Quickel

Networking is a really good thing to keep in mind as your trip comes to an end. Before you’re on your way back home, be sure to take advantage of your new connections! Your study abroad experiences can be used to your benefit in the future, so make sure you take the time to reflect on your personal and professional growth.

Time to Connect 

If you have an internship, research, or service-learning position, make sure you take the opportunity to reach out to everyone who helped you along the way. It does not hurt to write some thank-you notes to your colleagues to leave a good, lasting impression. If you have any lingering questions or need career

Monday, November 6, 2017 - 12:32

Safety in Numbers: A Night Stranded in Budapest
Submitted by Sarah Kopczynski

During my spring break abroad, my roommates and I organized an intensive trip through Eastern Europe. Our mission was to tackle four countries in nine days, an ambitious journey that required a lot of rigorous planning. The first half of our trip ran rather smoothly from Vienna to Budapest, but we hit a roadblock when we missed our over-night train from Budapest to Krakow. Trying not panic over our misfortune, we found the nearest customer service desk. However, since none of us spoke Hungarian, we were limited to communication via hand gestures and tears. With no English speaker in sight, we scrambled throughout the station looking for help from anywhere. Luckily, one of my roommates spotted a hole in the wall which turned out to be the international office, and we were able to get tickets for another train.

Monday, November 6, 2017 - 12:49

Putting the “Study” in Study Abroad
Submitted by Elsie Zuch

Sometimes study abroad students—myself included—forget that the “study” in study abroad means exactly that. You’re abroad so that you can explore and immerse yourself in a new way of life, but it is important to remember that every day is not a vacation. You are there to learn and to better yourself! This is particularly relevant to you Panther Program folks, as your grades abroad will impact your Pitt GPA.

Let’s start with the basics. Whether you’re just starting your trip or you see finals fast approaching, is time to develop a study plan. Spontaneous trips across Europe are amazing, but you know what makes them even better? If you bring along some of your homework! Stick to your study schedule, even if you’re traveling.

Thursday, November 2, 2017 - 10:16

Intern Spotlight: Meet Dana Calabrese!

Hello, Mholweni, and Ciao! My name is Dana Calabrese. I am a senior at Pitt and a student intern for the Study Abroad Office. Before joining the Study Abroad Office Team, my own journeys abroad took me to Cape Town, South Africa, and Florence, Italy! I am currently enrolled in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences studying Communication Science, and next fall, I hope to begin working toward a master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. When I’m not at the Study Abroad office or in class, you can find me exploring the city of Pittsburgh with my friends, hiking in some of Pennsylvania’s various parks, or in the front row of both the Panther Pitt and the Oakland Zoo!

My time in South Africa was the absolute best and most rewarding 7 weeks of my life. In addition to a course on Global Public Health, part of program involved service

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - 11:55

How to Not Be an Obnoxious American
Submitted by Kristen Nichols

When studying and living abroad, it can both exciting and intimidating to acclimate to a new culture. Sometimes, it may seem impossible not to stick out like a bald eagle in your host country. Below are tips from actual, seasoned study abroad alums, shared in the hopes that you may be spared our past mistakes:


  1. Be quiet on public transportation. Most of these people are commuting to work or class, and are trying to prepare for the day. They do not care about how “your life has been changed by gelato on every corner.”
  2. One more time, BE QUIET. Seriously, if the accent does isn’t a dead giveaway
Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - 12:31

Tips to Combat Homesickness
Submitted by Kristen Nichols

Studying abroad is definitely one of the most exciting experiences a student can embark on, but once the initial excitement wears off, many students are plagued by homesickness. While these feelings are totally normal and to be expected, they can inhibit you from getting the most out of your abroad experience! Listed below are some expert tips on how to beat homesickness:


  1. Schedule a weekly call with your loved ones. One of the most effective ways to feel still connected to your life at home is to have regularly scheduled calls with family and friends back home. Be it a phone call or a video chat, having consistent contact with loved ones can make you feel less alone.
Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - 11:24

Reverse Culture Shock

You may be familiar with the term “reverse culture shock.” More than a catch-phrase, however, reverse culture shock can be a very real challenge for many students returning from study abroad experiences. Just as students may struggle in adjusting to a new culture abroad, they may also find difficulty in adjusting to “normal life” once they return home. Some symptoms of reverse culture shock include: boredom, apathy for others, trouble articulating your experience, reverse homesickness, feeling isolated or alienated, and compartmentalization or “shoeboxing” of your experience, among others. Here are some tips for avoiding reverse culture shock:

Strategies for Readjusting to Life at Home

  1. Anticipate the adjustment and give yourself time