If you’re looking for a great tool to share with students and faculty, you must visit the web channel: “Studies Abroad with Cole Blaise.” Blaise is a student from University of Missouri – Kansas City. Blaise studies film and media at the university and took the time to document his Spring 2010 study abroad experience in Brno, Czech Republic.
Blaise attacks his study abroad experience with authenticity, humor and intelligence. The lessons that he shares are timeless – from the day he cuts his hand while changing a light bulb, then seriously debates whether he should go to the hospital (yet, somehow, manages to find time to “twitter it” and films doing so before leaving for the hospital), to the time he stands outside a beautiful park in Croatia, explaining how he cannot afford to actually go INTO it because he didn’t save enough money for all he wants to do while studying and traveling abroad.
The “minipode” (a web channel episode) entitled “And Then it Hit Me” is a particularly useful (and playful) commentary about the dip that our students often experience during culture shock. He realizes that Brno isn’t warm. He can’t quite pronounce his host city either, attempting it several times. He fake sobs. Blaise offers a playful moment, comically rocking in bed with a bottle of BBQ sauce from Kansas City. And then he tells the tale of not managing to apply for the right visa BEFORE leaving the US. He was incorrectly told that he could get the visa in country, so had to travel to Vienna, Austria to apply for the student visa. (He isn’t the first, and sadly, won’t be the last to do so, I’m sure!)
Here is the short “minipode”:
With each “minipode”, we get some insight into his life abroad. Early on, he references that his studies are easier than at home (an often incorrect stereotype of study abroad.) While Blaise does document completing a major paper and some projects, I wish he spoke more about how he interpreted the academic challenge later in the series. We learn about his travels, his memorable night at a concert, his visit to the hospital, and even his humorous stereotype about the quality of Czech toilet paper! With each episode, we see a more and more confident young man exploring the world and soaking it all in.
Blaise joyfully states at one point, after spontaneously performing on stage with a well known 90s band, that his time abroad is “Czechtastic.” Blaise’s documentation of his time abroad has been equally “Czechtastic.” I hope you’ll “Czech” it out and perhaps consider using some of the footage to spice up your marketing of study abroad, pre-departure meetings and/or staff and faculty trainings.