Why Choose Mexico 2016?

Last week Mexicanos around the world celebrated Natalicio de Benito Juárez. On March 21, 1805, the former president Benito Juárez was born. Juárez may be best known as the President of Mexico who helped expel the French Empire from trying to colonize and create a puppet state in Mexico (1861-1867). Cinco de Mayo is another holiday that comes from the France’s ill-fated soirée and celebrates the defeat of, what was considered the greatest military force in the world, by a greatly outnumbered Mexican army. Jaurez on Rivera's Mural at the Palacio.jpg

Benito Juárez was born in Oaxaca, Mexico. IU South Bend students can spend 4 weeks this summer living in Oaxaca, learning about the culture and society that produced Mexico’s only indigenous president.


This past year I had a chance to go with IU South Bend to Oaxaca. Although not my first experience with a non-Western European culture, it was still an eye-opening experience. Unless you have experienced something like this it is hard to describe beyond a longing to return. Just the other day I was telling my partner, who also went on the Mexico trip with me*


My Host Family

not one week goes by where I do not miss and desire for my host mother’s cooking.” 027

The deadline for the Summer II 2016 Oaxaca, Mexico is tomorrow. Do not miss this truly unforgettable trip.


*Our Mexico trip allows spouses and children to participate with special permission.


Jason Rose is an IU South Bend alumni and current graduate student of History at Ball State University. He did part of his Thesis Research on the 2015 Oaxaca, Mexico Trip.
















Woman on Wheels: Touring Vietnam by Bicycle

On March 23, 2016, IU South Bend archivist Alison Stankrauff gave a presentation on her summer 2016 trip traveling solo through Vietnam, a trip she described as “nothing short of amazing” and “days of wonder.”

She encouraged all her listeners, but especially women, to consider embarking on an adventure on their own and referred them to resources for solo women travelers.

She told her audience that traveling solo had empowered her, allowed her to forge a deeper connection to the places and people where she was visiting, and helped her to think about who she is and what kind of person she would like to be.

This talk was sponsored by the Women’s and Gender Studies Department and International programs. Thanks to media services for filming the talk.

Alison’s guides introduced her to the people, culture, and food of Vietnam

Hanoi PeddlerShe had a chance to visit cities


as well as the beautiful countryside

Market at Hoang Su Phiand she loved exploring the public markets

Red Dao Ethnic Familybut best of all were the people that she met,

Me Cycling In Vietnam 2015

…and the chance to do it on her bike.

More resources for women traveling alone:

Solo Women Travelers – A closed group on Facebook – a*very* affirming group, offers good advice!

Woman  Travel Guide:

HostelWorld – “Solo Female Travel: Nine Myths and One Truth”:

Young Adventuress 

“…one of my big big BIG opinions that I frequently and loudly profess in real life as well as online is the following; I am a strong believer that all women should travel solo, at least once in their lives.”

Jessie on a Journey:  “How Solo Female Travel Changed My Life (And How It Can Change Yours, Too).”

GypsyGals:  A love letter to traveling solo and female in Hanoi!

Women’s Adventure Magazine has Vietnam in its Top 10 Places for Women to Travel Solo:

Women Traveling to Vietnam:

“I have never felt that my gender has been particularly relevant in Asia.”


Passports: First Time Applicants

Getting your passport is not difficult but it does take some planning to get your paperwork together. The routine processing time is 6 – 8 weeks, starting the application early saves you worry and money. Expediting your passport adds a $60 charge and still takes three weeks on average.

First time going abroad? New travelers need to complete application form DS-11. You can download the PDF, fill it out, and take it to the Post Office. I visited the South Bend post office to turn in my application,you can use any passport acceptance facility in our area.


First passports and name changes must be applied for in person.

One thing you will need before submitting your application is a passport photo. I went to my local CVS Pharmacy and they provided two photos for $12.99. The process only took a matter of minutes. If you have the Post Office take your passport photos, they charge $15.00 but you know the photos will not be rejected.

You will need to provide identity documentation including evidence of U.S. citizenship and photo identification. The passport application lists everything you need.this-kid-is-going-places-happy-baby

The passport book fee is $110 payable to the U.S. Department of State. There is also a $25 execution fee for processing which will cover the mailing costs of the application process.

A passport will allow you to travel around the world and also serves as an important document when verifying your identity. In other words, it’s a good thing to have no matter where life takes you.

Guest Post by Susan Ward, International Programs Intern

Free Travel Weekends in Italy

Students preparing to study abroad in 2016 should keep in mind that traveling to places not on the itinerary can enhance your international experience. There are many great places to visit in Italy and Europe as a whole, so choosing may be difficult. In 2015, groups of students used their free travel weekends by visiting places like Cinque Terre, Milan, Naples, and Pompeii of Italy as well as Madrid, Spain and Paris, France. You’re already so close, take your experience one step further!

Rome is a destination that has it all; beautiful scenery, amazing art works, and an incredibly rich history. Art and history students all over the world revere a chance to see Rome’s offerings. From the Pantheon to the Vatican to the Colosseum, this may be the right way to spend a travel weekend! Amo Roma!


Cityscape of Rome, Italy.


A fountain in Piazza San Pietro, Vatican City, Rome.


A small section of the Vatican’s numerous beautiful ceilings. Vatican City, Rome.


The Pantheon still stands despite nearly 2000 years of use. The Fontana del Pantheon (Fountain of the Pantheon) highlights the Piazza della Rotonda. Rome, Italy.


Getting a taste of the Florence trip with Student Traveler: Ryan Shields


Ciao, everyone! Did you know that in Venice you use the canals as your main source of daily travel? You can experience the world and grow academically when studying abroad. Venice would be a great place to start.

“I’ve been bitten by the abroad bug. I’m not sure if there is a cure other than to go again!” – Ryan Shields referring to his 2015 Florence, Italy study abroad trip. As an intern of the International Program, I conducted an interview with Shields about his experiences to give students an inside look at studying abroad.

  1. What is your major? I’ll be receiving my B.F.A. in New Media with a concentration in video and motion media.
  1. Which cities did you visit? We went to amazing places in Italy including Cinque Terre, Siena, Pisa, Lucca, and Rome.

Students who studied academically and culturally through the trip enhanced their understanding of global connections and made themselves more well-rounded individuals.


  1. What was the most intriguing thing you learned about the Italian culture? The pace of things in Italy is very relaxed. In the States, everything we do is rushed, but in Italy they just don’t have that stress of a time constrained life-style.
  1. What was the coolest thing you learned overall? Researching Michelangelo and Caravaggio turned out to be amazing. These two men are my favorite Italian artists from the Renaissance & Baroque periods because they both led incredible lives in very different ways.
  1. Have your experiences affected your career path? I think I will be more prepared to travel for work, if it is required of me. I can feel comfortable going to a foreign country to carry out a task.
  1. How has this affected you academically overall? I use a large amount of the videos and photographs I took in Italy for my current projects. They became a good conversation starter with my professors and peers. Additionally, I now have an abroad experience to add to my resume!

The fresh and exciting environment that Shields was placed into helped him absorb knowledge. Surrounded by new sounds, sights, and people stimulated an engaged learning experience.

  1. Describe the environments, rooms, and people that you lived with on the trip. The room that I stayed in had tall ceilings with a painted mural. There was a beautiful chandelier hanging from the middle as well. The room was breathtaking and only a small part of the whole apartment. The people I lived with grew to be my friends. I stayed with seven people, five of which I had not known previously. We worked together as a tight knit group to adapt to the Italian lifestyle.
  1. Recount your favorite memory from studying abroad. My favorite memory is probably doing my schoolwork at the “shoreshack.” It was a picturesque Panini and smoothie shop along the Arno River in the middle of Florence.


  1. How were your foreign language skills effected by your experience? I started practicing basic Italian right after I got accepted into the program. It seemed to me that the Italians genuinely appreciated the effort! Molto bene!
  1. Describe your experience with locals. I found that the best way to find the good food spots in each town is by speaking to the locals! In my experience, everyone I encountered was friendly and helpful. They may laugh at your broken Italian, but they will be quick to help point you in the right direction!


While studying abroad opportunities are quite academic, students also go on adventures and have mentally strengthening experiences.

  1. What was your biggest obstacle on the trip? The biggest obstacle from my perspective was being away from my bike and drums. I did not realize how relaxing these hobbies were to me until I was without them. I finished George R. R. Martin’s Dance With Dragons, and Sigmund Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents while I was there thoughSo really, the challenge did not involve Italy necessarily; it was more about how to spend my free time without two of my main hobbies.
  1. What were the most fun activities you experienced? Not including the hike in Cinque Terre, which would top the list usually:

#3: Riding bikes on Lucca’s walls. Lucca is a Tuscan town that is still surrounded by medieval style walls. These walls were built particularly wide to make it difficult for archers to accurately fire arrows inside the city. We rented bikes and rode the perimeter of the city on top of these walls to view the hilly Tuscan countryside.

#2: Staying in Florence. We became so familiar with Florence that it truly felt like home. My roommates and I would buy groceries in shifts and take turns cooking meals. It was a great showing of teamwork between new friends in an amazing foreign city.

#1: Venice. The three days that we spent in Venice were nothing short of magical. The entire transportation system in Venice is comprised of boats. There is something very special about the general mood in Venice because of this. Our trip’s purpose was to explore the world of photography and shooting from boats became my favorite activity.

  1. Once you were on the trip, was there anything you wished you would have done before you left for the trip? I wished I wouldn’t have packed so many clothes, and I should have brought my bike. Italy is definitely a biking culture. I would have loved to have my own with me instead of renting one!
  1. Why did you go on the trip? I was drawn to the opportunity of studying Italian Renaissance and Baroque art in Italy. I believe that no artist on the planet could be blind to the influence of Florentine and Roman art of this period. I also knew that spending a month in Italy would expand my comfort zone. If one can thrive in a country with a different tongue, one can thrive anywhere.


15. Why do you think others should study abroad? Studying abroad gives students the ability to look at their majors with new insight. The opportunity to be immersed in other cultures in such an intimate way is rare. Once a person has more obligations (like mortgages, kids…etc.), it will be harder to take part in an excursion of this magnitude. Do it now while it’s the easiest it will ever be!

Blog post written by: Chrissy Bohlmann


Vertigo at the Vatican

The Bramante Staircase is regarded as a hidden treasure of the Vatican. Some tourists miss this wondrous and vertigo-inducing piece of architecture as it is no longer on the main tour paths. Despite the name, this modern double-helix staircase was actually designed by Giuseppe Momo in 1932, who was inspired by the original Bramante Staircase of the Renaissance. This stunning set of individual pathways is regularly used by patrons traveling from the Belvedere Palace to the Cortile del Belvedere.


Momo’s design takes two pathways and intertwines them in a double-helix. Photograph by Ryan Shields

Globalize Your Education: Study In Italy

IUSB is heading back to Florence in 2016! Finals week has come and gone and we at the International Programs urge students to consider studying outside of the United States. Professor Dora Natella is leading students back to Italy in the pursuit of expanding intellect and experience! Students will stay in apartments provided in partnership with the Santa Reparata International School of Art. The program is from May 19th to June 17th 2016. The deadline for applications is February 5th, 2016. It is imperative for students to start the process of getting a passport! Start planning now!


The rolling hills of Tuscany. Photographs by Ryan Shields


A streetview in Florence, Italy.


IU South Bend students at Piazzale Michelangelo.