Sunday, July 8, 2012

Conclusion of the EAN Conference

Posted in Lauren Smith |

Today marked the conclusion of the EAN conference.  The morning presentation was focused on higher education, and whether it should be a right, a priviledge, or is it a necessity. There was one presenter and three different respondents. Each shed a different light on the subject matter and all were valuable.

We left the conference early in order to visit the U.S. embassy. I never really had any thoughts about an U.S. embassy in other countries and their duties. Therefore, visiting the embassy today gave me a general idea of the purpose of embassies. Having the ability to visit and have different employees of the embassy speak with us was exceptional. Tomorrow, the group will be visiting the Lakes which will be an all day excursion.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day Two of EAN Conference

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The second day of the EAN conference was very intricate. We were able to actually sit in on paper sessions which I was extremeley thrilled about because there were numerous fascinating research being presented. The session that I sat in on presented information regarding the class disparity within the U.S. educational system. I loved the entire presentation from beginning to end, the way in which Ms. Lyons from the University of Alabama at Birmingham presented a brief history of education and disparity dating back to the civil rights era up until this century was an excellent way to inform those at the conference from other countries about historical issues that are still very prevalent in American society. Her discussion is something that I am highly passionate about, therefore I was pleased to have the opportunity attend her session.

Towards the afternoon session of the conference, all of the students entered back into the international student forum. Today the agenda was a bit different in the sense that we were asked to record a brief video of ourselves stating our country of origin and our barriers we faced within higher education. The video would then be edited and presented at the conference tomorrow. I thought it was a brilliant idea to produce a video where each student had the ability to address their unique experience within higher education, and the world will be able to hear about it. I sincerely hope that the individuals in which the video will be presented to will take to heart what is stated, and help to motivate others to ameliorate issues within the higher educational systems in all of the countries.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Start of the European Access Network Conference

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Today had to be one of the most eminent days of the stay in Zagreb. The conference was definitely an experience I was proud to be apart of. The ability to speak with other students in the same situation that I am currently in terms of higher education, and to feed off of one another’s ideas regarding higher education was inspirational and enlightening. I sincerely hope to have the ability to build a stronger bond with them before the conclusion of the conference.

The visit to the psychological institute in the afternoon provided me with a deeper understanding of the level in the degree to which students here in Croatia study psychology. Additionally, attending the reception at the Botanical Gardens was a lovely experience as well. I was able to network  with a few individuals that could possibly help me reach the future that I picture for myself. I am highly looking forward to remainder of the conference and develop a deeper understanding of the other research as well as information that the other international universities have to offer.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Weekend Excursion: June 21st – 25th

Posted in Lauren Smith |

Our weekend excursion to the coast was magnificent. Words cannot express the beauty that the lies within all of the scenery. Croatia truly is a hidden gem that more people should be informed about. The most exciting place on the coast for me had to be Dubrovnik, and I am fortunate enough to say that I was able to swim in the Adriatic Sea while there. Split was also amazing, just every place in general was a memorable experience. Additionally, the excursion we had on Monday in Hrvatsko Zagorje to the school as well as the castle was phenomenal. Being granted the opportunity to visit a historical place of Croatian history was very informative as well as enjoyable. The castle in itself was another huge plus added to the history lesson of Croatia. I love the fact that there are many castles still in existence in Croatia because it leaves a piece of history around that will entice everyone from different ages. Although we were unable to take pictures at that particular castle in Hrvatsko Zagorje, I can say that I have a vivid memory of the beauty of the place.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ending Our Time in Varaždin

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Today was a very chill day and nice way to end the stay in Varaždin. Visiting the high school was amazing. The schools here in Croatia seem more advanced than most I have seen back in America. It is incredible how they make so much out of very little which is something the U.S. needs to adapt in order to better our educational system. Overall, very lovely experience and provided a great deal of insight on the school systems at a glance.

Additionally, having the opportunity to bond for what maybe the last time with some of the students at FOI was also very enjoyable. I appreciate all of the time, effort, and dedication each and every one of them put forth in manifesting this journey of ours here in Varaždin. It was a true act of kindness. More than likely most of the students will join us in Zagreb, which I will be looking forward to.

On another note, I am very excited for our weekend excursion. I am expecting a lot of siteseeing, pictures, shopping, and possibly even swimming to be had. YAY!!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Great Way to End the Day

Posted in Lauren Smith |

.      My blog entry for today will be extremely brief due to being sick for the majority of it. I appreciated everyone’s concern and help throughout the day, sincerely. The play in the Old Town we attended today was awesome. I love plays. I always try to attend them at least once a year. Having the opportunity to see a silent one was more amazing because you rarely see them anymore, and I feel silent plays are capable of telling a deeper story than those who may have verbal communication context. Therefore, the opportunity was extremely pleasurable, especially since we arrived late and the actors were willing to put on an encore performance just for us. That was a great way to end the day. I just want to say thanks to everyone again for all the generosity and kindness and I am looking forward to the activities in the days to come.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I can’t say thank you enough…..

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.     Today was a pretty decent day, the best element of the day however has to be the salsa dancing. I absolutely love to dance, therefore having the opportunity to dance was amazing. Additionally, seeing and meeting the children at the school was intriguing. As a future child psychologist as well as educator, I enjoy every opportunity to be in an environment with children. Although I was not able to interact with them as much as I would have liked, the experience in general was very memorable. For the individuals here in Varaždin, I cannot express enough gratitude for how welcoming everyone has been. It is truly appreciated and admired. It will definitely teach me to become more inviting and friendly to foreigners back in Chicago. FOI without a doubt knows how to show us the hidden gems of Croatia, and I am definitely appreciative of that and cannot say thank you enough.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A new perspective of Croatia

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Two words to describe the outdoor activities for today: phenomenal and exhausting. I have not rode a bike in decades it seems, and to be able to get on one again and go on a mini-excursion was perfect. It presented a new perspective of Croatia for me, that I never imagined. The students here are extremely welcoming which is greatly appreciated because one does not experience genuine characteristics as often as one does in a foreign country. Additionally, being able to meet a famous soccer coach was also an appreciated aspect of the day.  I hope to utilize his facility at least once before we leave Varaždin. Besides minor set backs for myself such as the extreme heat and leaving my laptop charger in America, I really enjoy immersing myself in the culture here in Croatia. P.S. If I did not express it much before, I will say it again: the food in Croatia well at least Varaždin is amazing!!!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Day one in Varaždin

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.     Today has been extremely exhausting. I love the food here. It’s much better than I expected to be. People abroad for the most part are generally more friendly and open to new people which is so warming and tension easing. It was nice to meet the students from UCF & FOI as well, nice genuine individuals. I’m excited for upcoming excursions & to try to immerse into the culture.

Friday, June 15, 2012

2 days and counting….

Posted in Lauren Smith |

.    When I initially was informed about the trip, I was a little puzzled of this place but excited nevertheless to experience a new country that I never visited nor heard of before. However, contrast to my initial reactions, other individuals at my job and in my family who had heard of Croatia had amazing things to say about the culture. The most consistent response that I received was that the scenery, primarily the lakes and various beaches as being amazing. With the feedback I received from others, I became more enlightened for the experience as well as eager. Nevertheless, I still proceeded to do my own research on the culture, particularly the food because I am a foodie. I found that Croatian cuisine is heterogeneous of its neighboring countries and cultures, primarily a Mediterranean mix. With this little bit of knowledge of the food types, I hope to have a great experience and fall in love.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

DePaul McNair Scholar: Lauren Smith

Posted in Lauren Smith |

Lauren Smith is a junior at DePaul University, majoring in Psychology. Her research interests focus on child clinical psychology. She will be conducting a summer research project this summer at DePaul University with Dr. Antonio Polo, analyzing Latino youth mental health patterns.