Friday, July 4, 2014

July 4th: Europe, I’m really gonna miss ya!


First Independence Day abroad and last day abroad, wrapped into one. We had another excellent day at the 2014 FACE conference. The key note speaker Mr. Jack Carney was unbelievable, he posed some of the problems of the education system and then actually followed up with solutions. I will absolutely bring some of his sound advice back to the states and to UCF. After the conference closed this afternoon we went to the Cadbury outlet! My sister is gonna flip when she sees the loot I brought home. We came back to the hotel and are currently in the process of packing to go home and watching the Brazil vs Columbia game. This trip has been absolutely outstanding. I didn’t know what to expect before I came to Europe but I know now that it would have exceeded even my wildest dreams. I am happy to go back to my family and home but at the same time sad to go. I am going to miss my Croat family every day until I see them again. I have pictures, treasures and memories to leave with, but the friendship I made are my favorite things to take home.

Friday, July 4, 2014

July 4th: What an amazing journey!


Today was the last day of the conference and the scholars got some great information to bring back to the states. Very thankful for our partnership with the University of East London and the opportunity to explore The University of Salford, Manchester. The scholars also got to meet our new friends from Sweden at Malmö University. Overall the 2014 FACE conference was a huge success. The past 24 days have been excellent. We all miss Croatia already! Very excited to see our families and friends but it will be sad to leave such amazing and culturally rich places. It has been great to see the scholars grown from their experience abroad.  So excited for them to share their experiences with others.  A big thank you to everyone we have meet and to all of our partnerships new and old. Hvala & Cheers! 

“Traveling- it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller”- Ibn Battuta”

Friday, July 4, 2014

July 4th: Last Day


The last day of the Forum for Access and Continuing Education (FACE) Conference was today, which also wraps up our trip. I believe the FACE Conference was a great success and it ended with a great keynote speech from Mr. Jack Carney about “Aspiration Beyond Expectation”. I really enjoyed Mr. Carney’s presentation because he identified problems in the educational system and offered possible solutions. After the conference, we went back to the hotel to get some rest. Then, we went to The Lowry Outlet Mall and bought delicious chocolate from the Cadbury Outlet. Later that night, we went back to our hotel rooms and watched some of the World Cup games while packing to go back home. I cannot believe our research abroad trip has come to a conclusion. I have had an amazing experience and I learned so much throughout the trip. I hope I can do this again someday!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

July 3rd: FACE


The presentations today included “the BBC Technology Apprenticeship,” “Responding to the challenge – evolving the curriculum to ensure equity of outcome,” and “Socio-economic barrier to post-graduate education.” I really enjoyed the last session because it was presented by fellow McNair scholars from DePaul University and they did a phenomenal job discussion their research questions. Once the presentations ended, everyone was invited to the conference dinner located in the M.S Lowry Museum. The dining room’s walls were made of glass and we overlooked Manchester city. I noticed the Manchester United stadium right away and thought it was really awesome. It was an amazing view and the dinner was delicious. After everyone finished eating, there was a raffle. Then, we welcomed the guest of honor, which was the project director of Reclaim Project. The project director gave a speech about the not-for-profit organization which helped young adolescents find their path to success. All the proceeds from the raffle were given to Reclaim Project. The night ended with a wonderful testimonial from one of the people who had been impacted by the organization. Sometimes conferences are all about helping yourself grow so it was great to see a charitable action taken.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

July 3rd: Excited for national and international collaborations @faceis21


FACE Conference Chair, John Storan with Scholars

The scholars were able to network and experience an international presence @ the FACE 2014 conference. This morning we were able to hear from Hayden Blackley about the development for the FACE 2015 conference in South Wales.  It is amazing to think that the conference have been going on for 21 years.  The rest of the day was filled with some excellent keynote and break-out sessions about  access and educational disparities around the world. The DePaul McNair scholars gave a thought provoking presentation. The DePaul scholars will be continuing their summer research as part of the University of East London McNair International Summer Institute.  A part of the research will also be conducted at Kingston University. Tomorrow is the last day of the conference and then it’s back to the states!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

July 3rd: Inspiring people and presentations @FACE2014!


Today we had breakfast at the Ibis hotel and took a cab to the University of Salford, Manchester FACE 2014 conference. We had the opportunity to hear from some fabulous keynote speakers from around the world. We hear from the UK, Sweden, the U.S., South Africa, and other major parts of Europe. We also had the great pleasure to hear a presentation from the DePaul McNair Program! So happy to see the work other McNair programs are doing across the country. Took amazing notes and made some excellent connections with faculty and researchers across disciplines and across borders. Tomorrow is the last day of the conference and I can’t wait to see what it brings. Tonight we had the pleasure to visit the MediaCityUK for networking event and a dinner at the Elis Lowery Museum.  The meal was lamb which I never get! So amazing! Can’t wait for what tomorrow brings.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

July 2nd: #FACEis21


Today we hopped on a taxi to go to the University of Salford for the Forum of Access and Continuing Education (FACE) conference. When we arrived to the campus we were greeted and given a tote bag, a lanyard, and breakfast. After enjoying some breakfast and meeting new people, we headed over to the first session, which was titled “Getting Published.” This was my favorite session of the day because I learned a lot about the publication process. The presenter, Dr. McKendry, gave a lot of valuable tips and advice to those who are interested in writing for peer-reviewed journals. I am excited to take this knowledge back home with me so that I can start publishing research soon. Next, we met the Vice Chancellor of the University of Salford, Professor Martin Hall. He was a great speaker who gave a lot of insight about the rich history of Manchester and its educational system. Later, we went to a few extra sessions and ate lunch. Soon after, it was time for me and the other students to do our presentation, which was titled “Student empowerment and the McNair Scholars Program.” We were all prepared, but a little bit nervous too. Nevertheless, we gave a successful presentation. I talked about my research abroad experience, while other students talked about their experience in the McNair Scholars program. We all received great feedback after the presentation and I am extremely proud to have had the opportunity to present at a wonderful conference. I look forward to the next two days of FACE!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

July 2nd: #faceis21


Missing Plitvice Lakes today!!! This morning I woke up excited and nervous to attend and present at the FACE 2014 conference. The speakers were inspiring the workshops were excellent and the networking opportunities were surreal. We presented our experiences about McNair and various topics in the afternoon and had the rest of the day to go to break out panel sessions. During the middle of the day we had a tea break! I was so looking forward to that, I packed away a cookie in my bag for later! After the final keynote speaker we had a wonderful dinner, dessert and cheese tray! Life is good in the UK! Tomorrow we have a full conference day, Gala dinner and additional networking opportunity. Can’t wait. This year FACE turns 21! So happy to be part of educational access history!


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

July 2, 2014: FACE Conference 2014

download (1)       IMG_1247

This year the scholars had the amazing opportunity to be international delegates at the Forum for Access and Continuing Education (FACE) 2014 conference. Students got to explore the University of Salford, Manchester and have the opportunity of going to a myriad of workshops and sessions by experts in the field of education. Our scholars presented their work in the early afternoon. The presentation went great all five scholars (Summer, Stephany, Gloria, Alice and Brittany) from UCF, DePaul and the Concord University all came together to collaborate on a presentation about their McNair experiences. After the presentation the students had the opportunity to learn from their peers, faculty and colleagues about international experiences and global thinking. Thank you to the University of East London for allowing us to be a apart of the 21st annual FACE conference!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July 1st: My first train!


We left the hotel in London at about noon to leisurely walk to the Euston train station to meet up with the London DePaul crew to board my first ever train experience. But before we left London Michael let me stop at the British Library to sniff a book and take a selfie in front of the Humanities section, conveniently located on the first floor. After the short but amazing moment at the library we continued our journey to the station. We went to the London version of Whole Foods and got a tasty sandwich for the ride. I then settled in for the two hour excursion. It seemed like such a short ride, I was surprised when it was already time to get off at our stop. We checked into the hotel, dropped off our bags, grabbed dinner and went to Gina’s room for a research meeting. Gina Sanchez is the Arnold Mitchem Fellows (AMF) Assistant Director at DePaul University and an amazing asset to both AMF and the McNair Scholars Program. We watched the brilliant USA vs Belgium game and #believed all the way to the final minute of extra time. Super excited for the FACE conference and our international research presentation.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July 1st: Manchester


I woke up feeling much better and ready to take the train to Manchester. We walked over to the train station and got some lunch. Soon after, we met up with the advisors and students from DePaul University. It was great to meet more students and make connections. The ride was about two and a half hours long, but it seemed short. Once we got to Manchester, we took a cab to our hotel and settled into our rooms. Later that night, I met with the advisor and students from DePaul to practice our speeches for the presentation we are giving at the conference tomorrow. We were all prepared, but we just needed to time ourselves so we do not go over our allotted time. It was nice to bond with the students too. Once we rehearsed our presentation, we all got some rest for the big day tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July 1, 2014: Headed to Manchester!


Today was our leg of  travel before our long journey home to the states. The scholars were excited to see London but eager to continue their journey to prepare for the FACE conference.  We arrived at the Euston train station with enough time to grab lunch and meet up with the DePaul Study Abroad: London group. Some of the scholars were familiar with one another because of the collaboration between UCF and DePaul and some faces were new. We arrived in Manchester at about 6:00 pm and checked into the IBIS hotel. The students were tired from their long day of travel but had a quick research meeting to prepare for their conference presentation the next afternoon. Looking forward to a wonderful conference and seeing the staff again from University of East London at FACE.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

June 29th & 30th: Greetings from London!


On Sunday we left the hotel, grabbed some breakfast, and started to explore London. First, we visited the St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was extraordinarily gorgeous. Then, we went to the Tate Modern Museum. The museum included a variety of art, such as paintings, photography, poetry, and sculptures with realistic and surrealistic themes. Afterward, we walked around the city and visited the London Eye and Big Ben. Before we could continue our journey, I started feeling very sick. Therefore, we decided to return to the hotel for some rest. Later that night, I felt worse. It turns out I got food poisoning. I had to go to the Urgent Treatment Center (UTC). After waiting seven long hours, I left the UTC feeling better. I am extremely thankful for Brittany and Michael who took great care of me throughout the day! On Monday, I stayed in the hotel to rest for a little bit longer so that I could fully recuperate for the conference.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

June 29 & 30: Excited for London rain or shine.

LondonLondon is gorgeous in the summer but it still tends to rain every day. This year we tried to be strategic and plan our day around the rain. We headed out for breakfast in the morning to fuel for our long journey exploring the city. We decided to wait to visit the Tate Museum of Modern Art until the rain started to fall. This allowed for us to explore the area around the London eye, the wooden park and various shops and restaurants. We visited the parliament building and saw all of the great statues including Winston Churchill. Of course the scholars saw Big Ben! We had the experience of riding in the classic Black Cab and taking photos in the telephone booths. We explored the city some more on Monday and got ready for another journey to Manchester. Very excited to see the DePaul scholars and present at the FACE conference!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

June 29th & 30th: I love London!


London is beautiful, inspiring, wonderful and extremely expensive. Today we left the hotel at 10:00 am and spent the entire day exploring. We walked from the way outskirts of town into the center. My favorite part was of course St. Paul’s cathedral. You can’t even describe the way it makes you feel except, small and humble. After the cathedral we walked over to the Tate Museum of Modern Art and got some boiled peanuts. We took a walk around the London Eye and saw a festival going on, called the Festival of Love. The festival brought even more color into an already vibrant city. We walked back to the Tate and decided to take a look around. The featured artist was Matisse but I still found myself at the Dali exhibit, old habits die hard. We grabbed a quick lunch and headed over the bridge to meet Big Ben and all of the gorgeous buildings living next to him. By that point it was very late and we headed back to the hotel. We explored the city again the next day. And now it’s time for our final destination, Manchester!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

June 28th: Hvala!


This morning we travelled from Varazdin to Zagreb to catch our plane to London. After a short flight, we arrived safely to England. Although I am excited to continue my journey, I am really sad to leave Croatia. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to research abroad in Croatia and have created great memories with an amazing group of people. I cannot wait to come back, but I am even more excited to host the Croat students when they come to Florida, which I hope will be very soon. I look forward to keeping in touch with everyone and continuing the partnership with FOI. Hvala!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

June 28: Welcome to London, UK.

IMG_1119Hvala to everyone in Varaždin! Thank you to Prof. Violeta and the FOI management Board for showing us such an amazing time in Croatia! It is a pleasure every year to be part of this wonderful collaboration. We are excited to begin planning the next visit. We said some sad goodbyes and headed to the Zagreb airport to board our flight for London! The scholars are very excited to see London for the first time. When we got to London we checked in at the Tune Inn at Kings Cross. We immediately went out to grab food. We were able to see a bit of the Brazil vs Chile game and then headed around the city to explore. After a couple hours we headed back to the hotel. Tomorrow will be filled with a day of sightseeing.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

June 28th: Hello London!


Leaving Varaždin was bittersweet. I meet some of the most amazing people in the world and created friendships that will last forever. Not to mention a continuous collaboration with the FOI faculty. Hvala to everyone I meet and helped make our journey through Croatia as memorable as possible! Hvala especially to Neva, Alen, Kika and Ozren for taking the time be with us every step of the way. And a big Hvala to Prof. Violeta for organizing such an amazing experience, it truly changed my life forever! As we boarded our plane for London I started to get excited about our next adventure! London is gorgeous and the environment is incredibly diverse. I was happy to see and hear so many different cultures as I walked down the street. Just walking around the first day we saw the British Museum and the beginning of Piccadilly Market. We went for dinner at amazing little local joint called Burger and Shake. Anyone that knows me knows my favorite food is a juicy cheeseburger! And that is exactly what I got, I started craving a burger the second I smelled it. After dinner we explored the city a bit more and decided to go back to rest after a long day of travel at the Tune Inn. Cannot wait for tomorrow!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

June 26th & 27th: Agritourism


Today we visited Diana, a student from Faculty of Organization and Informatics (FOI), for a special day of Agritourism. Agritourism is when visitors go to see the agricultural aspect of a specific region. I absolutely loved this because I think I learned so much about the culture of Croatia. When we arrived, Diana’s family greeted us into their home with open arms. First, they introduced us to a couple of their farm animals, including chickens, donkeys, ducks, geese, pigs, and dogs. Later, we picked fruits and vegetables. First, I enjoyed picking cherries. I stayed under the cherry trees for a while because they are one of my favorite fruits and they were so delicious. It reminded me of cherry-picking in New York with my boyfriend, Todd. Later, I dug up some potatoes and collected carrots, peas, and kale. I had no idea we were going to cook a meal with all of these vegetables, but we did. Diana’s family taught us how to prepare a fresh, home-cooked, typical Croat meal. We all helped in the process of cooking by chopping up vegetables and peeling potatoes. We made a tasty chicken and vegetable soup. One of the best soups I have ever had! We were also treated to some home-made goat cheese, goat milk, strawberry jam, and omelets. I cannot thank Diana and her family enough for this incredible experience! Later that day, we went back to our rooms to rest and I read some of the Croat articles we had been featured in. It is an honor to be so pleasantly welcomed by everyone in Croatia. I have included some of the articles below.


E Varazdin


Aktualno HR


Varazdinske vijesti


MNK Cresnjevo


Unizg Rectors Building


Student’s blogs-Croatian


Student Blogs- English

Thursday, June 26, 2014

June 26 & 27: The wonderful hospitality in Croatia


Agritourism with the Kosec Family

The scholars were in for a real treat today. After our last lunch at Restaurant Park (Hvala Varaždin)! We took a drive out to one of the FOI student’s homes to experience Croatian Agri-Tourism. During Diana’s research presentation on Agri-Tourism we learned quite a bit about domestic animals, beautiful places to visit and traditional Croatian culture. Now we had the privilege to experience it in full swing at Diana’s home. Diana and her parents were welcoming and generous they showed us their farm, animals and let us help in preparing a delicious meal. Diana gave us traditional instruments called Tambura samica – Hvala. The scholars loved them as did I. The meal was amazing and we got to try homemade goat cheese, handpicked cherries and goat milk. The experience was priceless. Such a great way to end our time in Croatia.  Tomorrow will be spent saying goodbye to our amazing new friends.  Now it is time to catch a bit of rest before our flight on the 28th.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

June 26th & 27th: Agri-tourism in Croatia


My favorite words appeared yet again on the schedule, “Cultural Event”! Today’s cultural event was to Diana’s house! I first meet Diana when she gave a presentation at the 5th Annual International Student Research Symposium on Agri-Tourism in Croatia. Her presentation was amazing and I couldn’t wait to see her farm and land. Diana and her family graciously invited us to her home where we were given a tour of the farm and of all of the animals living there. I was lucky enough to meet her donkeys, chickens, goats, pigs, ducks, geese and dogs. The land itself was stunning and the fruit and veggies were even more amazing! We picked zucchini, carrots, cherries, lettuce, parsley, leeks and hoed potatoes! Diana’s parents helped us cut and prepare the vegetables into an insanely delicious stew. It was great to be on the farm. I have chickens and a mini urban garden at my own home so it was great to learn some tips for my chickens and vegetables. Diana also got us handmade Croatian national instruments to take home! The experience was amazing. Hvala Diana! Looking forward to some rest and shopping tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June 24th & 25th: Zadar


On Monday morning the UCF and FOI students said goodbye to the DePaul students because their trip was left Dubrovnik to travel to Zadar, another beautiful city located about five hours away. As soon as we arrived to Zadar we found the Sea Organ, which is a musical instrument that is played by the sea waves and air. While listening to the peaceful harmony that the Sea Organ played, we saw the sunset. Many people have testified that the sunset in Zadar is the most beautiful sunset in the world. I must agree. After viewing the splendid sunset, we explored the city a little bit longer and headed back to Varazdin for a good night’s rest.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June 24 & 25: Exploring Zadar

IMG_0654Zadar has always been a spot the past scholars have enjoyed. The sea side is beautiful the amenities of the city are great and the gelato is by far the best. We spent the morning and early afternoon making our way from the Dubrovnik coast. The trip had a few stops to look at scenery and have a hot meal in Bosnia and Herzegovina. When we arrived in Zadar we got a scoop of gelato (not nearly enough) and walked to the Sea Organ and Sun Salutation.

IMG_0352We traveled over the footbridge and had the chance sit for coffee and a scoop of gelato (not nearly enough) on our way to view two amazing attractions: the Sea Organ and Sun Salutation. Zadar’s incredible Sea Organ, designed by local architect Nikola Bašić, is a system of underground pipes that makes a beautiful sound as the sea pushes air through it. The Sun Salutation was also great to see. It collects the sun’s energy during the day and provides a light show at night. The scholars were amazed by the beauty and sound of the organ and the intensity of the lights from the radiating sun dial. After watching a beautiful sunset and exploring the ancient city we headed back to Varaždin for a good night’s sleep. We spent most of the next day catching up on the 3 R’s (research, reading and rest).

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June 24th &25th : Sea Organ, Sun Dial and Zadar


The travel time from Dubrovnik was a bit long but thankfully we got a bit of shut eye, especially Alice! We stopped for a bite in Bosnia and Herzegovina and I got some amazing chocolate! Finally after many hours we arrived in Zadar! Hemingway and Hitchcock both agree that Zadar has the most beautiful sunsets in the world; I would have to concur.  Zadar reminds me a bit of St. Augustine, Florida which was refreshing and nice to see something homey after being away for so long. Everyone immediately went for some gelato and a coffee. I am really going to miss being able to have leisurely coffee time around the city when we venture back to the states.  We walked over to the very impressive Sea Organ which made the most beautiful sounds. The Sea Organ is an organ carved from rock and concrete built at the water’s edge and when the wash crash music plays from beneath the seas wake. The Sun Dial is in the same vicinity as the Sea Organ. The Sun Dial is built into the ground, it is heated by the sun during the day and lights up the city at night it is magnificent to watch. Most of the FOI students explained that Zadar is their favorite sea side destination. We headed back to Varaždin and got some much needed rest that night and the day after! Such an amazing experience.

Monday, June 23, 2014

June 23rd, 2014: The Sun and the Beach


This morning, at around 9:30 am, our group hopped on the bus to visit the Old City in Dubrovnik. When we arrived, I was completely overwhelmed by the splendor of the sight. Immediately, we decided to explore the Old City. Therefore, our group bought tickets to walk the Walls of the Old City, which were made out of stone to protect it. The fortification was truly impressive because it was built near the 14th century and is still intact today. While walking the Walls, I saw much of the Old City from above. The view of the Old City and the Adriatic Sea was spectacular. We noticed many people kayaking, taking boat tours, and jumping onto submarines.  It looked like paradise. All in all, I enjoyed spending the day with the student from DePaul University and the students from the Faculty of Organization and Informatics. Later that day, we went back to the hotel and rested for a little while before we went to the beach. The beach at Dubrovnik is different from any other beach I have seen. The water was clear and rocks covered the shore. I swam for a while and enjoyed the scenery. I felt like I was at home. Soon after, we left the beach and searched for a restaurant to eat dinner and watch the Croatia versus Mexico game. We ate calamari, pizza, and pasta. Of course, we had to order dessert, so we got a banana split. The food was delicious. Then, we went back to the hotel and before I went to sleep, I spoke to my family and friends from back home. It was great to see them over Skype because I really miss them, but I hope I will be able to come to Croatia with them some day.

Monday, June 23, 2014

June 23rd: Walking the Walls

Touring the city walls in Dubrovnik.

Touring the city walls in Dubrovnik.

Walking the Walls of the Old City in Dubrovnik was one of the most sensory experiences of my life. You can see the water, walls, castles and sea. You can feel the blistering hot heat, sea salt and stone walls. The sounds were also amazing. Everywhere you turned you could hear others people’s reactions to the Walls and the city inside them, the view was absolutely outstanding. With how hot it gets it is hard to believe that people in armor and 15 pounds of clothing walked the walls on a daily basis, and don’t even get me started on the stairs. The walk took about an hour and a half, though it was only a mile around. The amount of pictures we were taking significantly slowed down the walking process, but with the content how could you not take a photo or two :p After we descending from the walls we headed to find a bite to eat. We grabbed some grub and decided to people watch for a moment, everyone was so excited to be in such a culturally rich environment. The next part is one of my favorites of the trip, exploring churches. As a Religious Studies major I thrive exploring sacred places. The churches were beautiful, colorful, and completely ornate- everything I had hoped for.  When we arrived back at the hotel Alice and I decided to go for a swim and experience a bit more of the Dalmatian beaches. The rocks take some getting used to but the lack of sand in your towels, clothes and bathing suit is awesome. We are all currently watching the scoreless Croatia v Mexico game, can’t wait to see how this one ends!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

June 22nd, 2014: Dubrovnik


We checked out of our hostel, located in Split, and travelled to our next destination, Dubrovnik. Although I usually fall asleep on road trips, I could not fall asleep today. The journey was beautiful. Everywhere I turned, I saw the beauty that is the Adriatic Sea. We made several stops, including one where Michael and I shared a delicious tray of cherries. After the long road trip, we finally arrived to Dubrovnik. We all checked into our hotel and went to the beach. I was so excited to finally see the place everyone was telling me about. Indeed, it was beautiful. That evening, we headed to the Old City of Dubrovnik to have dinner. We went to a restaurant that had a beautiful view of the Old City and the Adriatic Sea. On top of that, the food was really good. Everyone around me shared their food. I tried mussles, pizza, seafood risotto, and so much more. I had a great time bonding with all the students and learning more about them.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

June 22, 2014 Arrival to Dalmatia

Arrival in Dubrovnik

Arrival in Dubrovnik

We arrived to the Hotel Adriatic in the late afternoon and most of the students headed to the beach which was directly next to the hotel. The beaches are much different from the ones in Florida but I think everyone enjoyed themselves. We all went to dinner at a great restaurant in the old city that the Study Abroad students went to in past years and it was just as delicious as I remember. We explored the city, had some gelato and experienced the night life culture of Dubrovnik.

The history of the city is extremely rich; caught in the cross-hairs of the war that ravaged former Yugoslavia, Dubrovnik was pummelled with some 2000 shells in 1991 and 1992, suffering considerable damage. All of the damaged buildings have now been restored.  The reconstruction bill was estimated at US$10 million. It was quickly decided that the repairs and rebuilding would be done with traditional techniques, using original materials whenever feasible. We are learning and experiencing so much. Great Day! Can’t wait to see what’s next.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

June 22nd: Welcome to Dubrovnik!




We checked in to the Hotel Adriatic after a long day of travel. We headed to the beach immediately to soak up the last rays of sun and then we changed for a night of dining and exploring the city. I can’t wait to walk the walls tomorrow! So thankful to be in such a beautiful city with such an amazing group of people. Thank you @UCFMcNairScholarsProgram!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

June 21, An amazing time in Split: our first Sea Side


Today we had a full day in Split, the trip is going by so fast. It seems like yesterday we were entering the Zagreb airport! We started the day with a great breakfast at the hostel and got fueled up for a tour and exploration of the Diocletian Palace. The Diocletian Palace is a UNESCO’s fortune heritage site, and for good reason it was saturated with history and present culture. We were lucky enough to get information on the Palace from our new FOI friends (Hvala!) before we arrived so the scholars were able to understand the exhibit and the palace cellar in all its detail. After the palace tour we ventured into the heart of the city to observe the local culture and found out that music is one of the most important aspects of the Split culture which was evident from all of the people playing music on the streets and the concert going on in the center of the city. Some of the students went to the beach to swim, hang out and observe beaches that are much different from the ones in the states, we had some gelato from a great stand near the beach and enjoyed the beautiful weather. We then went for dinner near the Sea Side and indulged in some Sea Side seafood, it was fantastic! Tomorrow we will be boarding the bus early to go to Dubrovnik, the scholars can’t wait!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

June 21st: Never split in Split

IMG_2206Woke up this morning to a beautiful breakfast at the Goli Bosi boutique hostel in the center of Split, Croatia. After my morning dose of caffeine Alice and I headed out to explore the city a bit before our trip to the Diocletian Palace. When we arrived to the palace I was amazed at the history and the sheer size of just the cellar. Our new Croat friends provided us with some literature that made the exploring fun, meaningful and interesting instead of daunting. I was surprised to find out that Game of Thrones had filmed some of their last season down in the cellar of the Diocletian Palace. When we were there we saw a modern art exhibit that resembled the art of the third or fourth century AD, it was quite impressive. When we were through investigating the palace we walked around to the local shop to haggle with vendors to find some shades. Split is known for the intense sunshine and I needed a pair of glasses sooner rather than later; I succeeded in my mission and am the proud owner of yet another pair of aviators. We went to a restaurant on the water to soak up some of the sun and incredible view and then headed for the beach. I was really surprised coming from Florida that the beaches didn’t have white sand but instead compacted darker sand, it was extremely beautiful and the water was surrounded by terracotta colored houses sprinkled all over the coast. We went to dinner at a great place that served amazing seafood and chicken dishes, there was way too much food but I was in heaven. We ended the night sitting on the patio outside of the hostel experiencing the sea side night air.

Friday, June 20, 2014

June 20, 2014 – Plitvice Lakes, Split and a bus tour of Croatia

Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes


Day 9: Plitvice Lakes, Split and a bus tour of Croatia

We started our journey early today in order to travel by bus to the Dalmatian Coast to learn more about the Croatian UNESCO World Heritage sites.  Croatia is home to 7 of the locations around the world protected by the United Nations. One of the scholar’s favorite places to visit is Plitvice Lakes, it is an experience that cannot be described in pictures but we will try anyway! After a 3 hour bus ride from Varaždin we arrived at Plitvice Lakes the scenery is beyond words and the students were in awe of the beauty. We rode the ferry boat, took a ton of pictures and enjoyed an ice cream while we watched the wildlife and waterfalls. I can still hear the water crashing now. We took the minibus and enjoyed the beautiful countryside and then seaside as we approached Split. We checked into the Goli Bosi Hostel in the heart of Split and concluded our long day of travel.

Tomorrow will have the opportunity to explore Split further.  Split is the largest city in the Dalmatian area and the second largest city in Croatia.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

June 19, 2014 – Thank you Beretinec!

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We must start by saying thank you to the Municipality of Beretinec! Today we embarked on a great exploration of the Municipality of Beretinec starting with a meeting from the Mayor Igor Kos. We  received a vast amount of information on the developments of the region and its plans for the near future. The students were educated on the villages, the cultural practices and experiencing a culture much different from their own in the states. We then went to visit the local volunteer Fire Department where we watched a presentation by the youngest set of Fire Fighters ranging from ages 6-9 years old. After the wonderful demonstration we visited the Črešnjevo Elementary school where we spoke with the principal and watched performances by the students. We received gifts of local delicacies and of course lavender plants which are native to the region. The students from both intuitions were thrilled. After our visit to the school we went to the MNK Črešnjevo futbol club. The members of the MNK were such amazing hosts, they explained the traditions of their organization and organized a futbol match between some of their younger players and our students. It seemed like the entire community came out for the game, you could feel a sense of community and team building that was unlike that of the states. When we were done being schooled in futbol we headed to the Črešnjevo Hunting club where we were greeted with performance of traditional dances and a feast that the students loved.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June 17th: Education in the formative years: SciBar & Kindergarden

SciBar_170614Today we visited Varaždin’s Kindergarten. We spoke with the principal and one of the teachers of the school. The students played tag with the kindergarteners and had a great deal of fun. This program is designed to incorporate early second language skills in young children. After our visit at the school we had a quick lunch at the student restaurant. In the afternoon we had research meetings and preparation for student projects. The students attended the university sciBAr in the evening and learned from faculty, students and local children on the importance of global thinking and local culture. This month the presentation was being given by one of our FOI friend, Neva Stopinšek and DePaul McNair director, Dr. Luciano Berardi.  The event was free to the public and delivered in a relaxed environment in the downstairs basement lounge area of FOI.

Data Analysis 2: Plan analysis for research questions

Monday, June 16, 2014

June 16, 2014 – Exploring FOI

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Today we started off the morning with the chance to meet with the FOI management board.  We spoke with meeting with the FOI Management Board (Dean, Prof.dr. Vjeran Strahonja, Ph.D. and vice deans).  They were all very excited about our visit and shared with us a brief history of the university. We were also presented a very nice FOI pack back with some welcoming gifts.

After a few hours of workshops related to our collaborative research study we volunteered at the local food bank.  This was a great opportunity for us to engage in a service project within the community.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

June 15, 2014 – Visit to Krapina & Trakošćan


This day provided us with yet another opportunity to explore the beauty Croatia has to offer. The experience was further enriched as we had an opportunity to also learn from current FOI students, faculty and staff and a visiting student from the University of Cincinnati.  Our first stop was the historic Neanderthal Museum in Krapina. We also were provide the chance to explore the marked paths connecting the new museum with the Neanderthal excavation site on the Hušnjakovo hill. From here we traveled to the Trakošćan castle. Trakošćan was built in the late 13th century in northwestern Croatian defense system as a small observation fortress.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

June 14, 2014 – First day in Varaždin was more than we imagined.

IMG_8416Upon our arrival in Varaždin, we met an additional group of students from FOI that will also kindly be our hosts for our short stay. Brittany and the DePaul McNair director we greeting with the singing of happy birthday.  We quickly settled in we headed to dinner.  After dinner Brittany and Luciano were surprised again with a birthday cake.  Our first day in Varaždin was more than we imagined.  After months of preparing, it is great to finally be here. At the end of a long day, we headed back to the dorms and prepared for the next day.


Friday, June 13, 2014

June 13, 2014 Exploring Zagreb

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Meeting with University of Zagreb Zagreb Vice Rector, Prof. dr. Blaženka Divjak was the highlight of the day.  The scholars really enjoyed the discussion about the United States and Croatian higher education systems. After the meeting the group continued to explore Zagreb.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

June 12th: Dobrodošli kući!

We just checked into the hotel in Zagreb.  After several long hours of flying the scholars were happy to have their feet on the ground.  Good to be back among such amazing friends. Grateful for the opportunity to introduce a new group of scholars. Also, great to see that the sign has lasted four years.



Monday, June 9, 2014

About the McNair Scholars Program

The McNair Scholars Program is a federal TRIO program funded at over 200 institutions across the United States and Puerto Rico by the U.S. Department of Education. It is designed to prepare undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. McNair participants are either first-generation college students with financial need, or members of a group that is traditionally underrepresented in graduate education and have demonstrated strong academic potential.

McNair Mission: To increase the number of first-generation college students from low-income families and members of underrepresented groups in the nation’s professoriate.

Friday, May 23, 2014

McNair Scholar Spotlight: Alice Neira

alice_neiraAlice Neira was born in Lima, Peru and moved to the United States at the age of six. She is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, while earning a minor in Education, and a certification in Leadership Studies. Alice’s goal is to combine her knowledge of education policy and passion for community service to positively impact students in public school systems in the United States, especially in lower socio-economic classes, and provide equal access to education. She plans to attend graduate school and acquire her Ph.D. in Education Policy.

Friday, May 23, 2014

McNair Scholar Spotlight: Brittany Murphy

108Brittany Murphy is a Florida native, hailing from a small town in South West Florida. She is a Humanities major as well as Religious Studies with a minor in Mass Communications. Brittany’s research interests are concerning how marginalized bodies are depicted in US. popular culture, specifically focusing on queer bodies and persons with disabilities. Brittany dreams of obtaining her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, with the goal of working in academia and pursuing non-profit work for students with disabilities.