Experiential Learning

Tales of Study Abroad: UC Blue Ash


Study abroad experiences impact memories of students and leaders. Even people who went on the same trip had different highlights and perspectives from their experience. Students and professors who studied abroad are willing to share their stories, if you are willing to listen.

Photo courtesy of Meghan Koch.

UCBA Professor Jody Ballah and the delicious but unexpectedly ugly bagel

 “Something kind of cool happened last summer. I took students on the French culture and language study abroad program here. And we go to Quebec City and Montréal in Canada, French speaking parts of Canada. And Montréal, one of the things its known for are the bagels. There’s a big Jewish population in Montréal and bagels are sort of one of their real mainstream food items, cultural icons if you will. So, we set out to go their most famous bagel shop that had been there. It’s been there for 80 to 90 years in Montréal; it’s supposed to have made the best bagels in the world. So, we’d had some bagels at regular restaurants, and we set out to do this. It took us a long time to get there, probably about an hour.  A couple different buses, a lot of walking. And when we get there there’s a big line up for it. So, we’re standing out in this line for maybe half an hour. And we weave through this really crowded, kind of messy, old looking shop. There was nowhere to sit or anything, but everybody’s lined up at this corner. So, we order our bagel and we go outside and were about to eat it. It tasted delicious, but it looked terrible! It was all smashed up and apparently that’s the way these bagels are served, this sort of ugly looking bagel. We had expected it to the most beautiful bagel we’d ever seen, in addition to it being the most delicious bagel. But it looked horrible. It was like all smashed. It had a hole, but it wasn’t a symmetrical hole in the center. We were sort of, “What?” People were taking pictures of it and things. But it was delicious, and it was worth the trek up there. But that was a strange experience. Just goes to show that you kind of expect one thing and you often get something different.”

UCBA student Kaia on the self-knowledge gained in Chile

“I was sixteen when I started my study abroad in South America. I lived with a host family and attended a local Chilean high school, where I met all of my friends and built my life that would last one year there. Study abroad taught me a lot of things about my host country and my home country, but most importantly, it taught me more about myself and helped me to grow up. I was so homesick during the whole year, and nothing in Chile was like anything in the States, but it was the people there that helped me to get through. It’s been nearly three years since I’ve returned but I am still learning things about myself thanks to my experience abroad.”

UCBA student Meghan on Comb of the Wind and Basque culture

“I remember this specific spot in San Sebastián. We were done studying at this point and we went to San Sebastián which is a beautiful beach and there’s a part called Comb of the Wind and it has these holes in the ground, which then connects to the ocean, it’s really hard to explain, you can google comb of the wind and you can better see what I’m talking about. But you stand over these holes and whenever the waves crash into the wall a giant burst of wind comes up through and you literally get blown away. There are also sculptures called Peine Del Viento. They are sculptures made of steel and it looks as it is supposed to be there, and it’s made into the rock. It was created by a Basque architect Luis Peña Ganchegui and Eduardo Chillida who was the sculptor, might want to fact check that, but I loved this moment because we spent the whole day exploring San Sebastian by ourselves and then at the end of the day, we all came together as a group. It was such a memorable experience and I am always so grateful that I get to spend it with them. Seeing beautiful sculptures that reflect the culture of the Basque and then laughing at all of us as the wind blows our hair all over the place. To end the day, we all just sat and watched the water crash into the walls and just taking in the culture. It is such an amazing experience to just sit and watch people live their daily lives. You can really get a sense of the culture and experiencing it with a group like this, there’s truly nothing better.”

Photo courtesy of Meghan Koch.

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