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No Money, Will Travel: On-Campus International Opportunities

You may not have the time or money to study abroad, but you can still experience cultures from around the globe without leaving your college town. Celebrate the history and heritage of countries near and far by checking out a concert, renting a movie or whipping up a meal. Follow our advice and you’ll get all the perks of globetrotting without the jetlag. So pack up your purse, grab a friend and get going—no passport required.

Cook a new recipe

Tired of your usual staples of Lean Cuisines and pizza? Try out a new recipe from a country you’re dying to visit. There are hundreds of recipes online and you’re bound to find one that piques your interest. I found a yummy Thai-style chicken soup with basil on Epicurious.com that I want to make. I’m sure my friends will love it too. Better yet, get your friends to each pick a country and a corresponding dish. Have a global potluck and bon appétit!

Visit a new restaurant (or call for takeout)

If whipping up a new dish is not on the menu, go out to eat where someone can cook for you. If your taste buds are feeling timid, grab a friend who can help you navigate. My friend Sabina Ion, a student at UNC-Chapel Hill, took me to my first lunch at a Greek restaurant called Mediterranean Deli. “There’s a lot of overlap with Romanian food but it also has Middle Eastern influences,” Ion says. I followed her lead when ordering and the very next week, I introduced her to Indian food.

Watch a foreign film

Next time you’re in Blockbuster or adding movies to your Netflix queue, don’t be afraid of subtitles. Try a beautiful Bollywood musical like Lagaan or a charming French film like Amelie. Both were nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and are some of my favorite films. Or watch L’auberge Espagnole and feel like you just spent a semester abroad. You’ll live vicariously through Xavier as he studies in Barcelona with a bevy of European roommates and learns about himself.

Relax with a global book, newspaper or magazine

Instead of watching yet another rerun of Friends, head to the library for some worldly reading material. Many libraries subscribe to foreign newspapers and magazines and you can sit and read about Italy, China or the U.K. until your heart’s content. One of my favorite guilty pleasures is picking up a British Glamour at the bookstore. Sure it may cost double its American counterpart, but it gives me a British slice of life that’s way cheaper than a plane ticket.

Catch a cultural performance

If you prefer to get a taste of culture in person, look for a concert or performance by a global group. Make expanding your horizons a priority and pencil in some fun. Your campus or college town’s newspaper is a great place to start looking for events. The more the merrier, so grab a group of friends. If you get your tickets in advance you may be able to get a group discount.

Download some global beats

Face it, Lady Gaga on repeat is not cutting it. You need some new music so check out the best of what the world’s got to offer. I always turn to the playlists on iMix (on iTunes) to get inspiration and so should you. Just type in a country or region and take a minute to listen. I found three playlists that have music worth downloading—an Italian playlist, a Japanese playlist and an African playlist.

Attend a cultural group’s meeting or a conversation night

International students like my friend Rebecca Kang from South Korea, a student at UNC-Chapel Hill, attend school far from home. But there are plenty of things on campus like cultural groups and conversation nights to make her feel like she’s there. Anyone can join in at club meetings and Kang says her Korean friends who were born in the U.S. attend to stay connected to their roots. Additionally, many foreign language departments host weekly conversation nights where you can spend an hour practicing your foreign language skills. If your Spanish is a bit rusty, don’t worry—just find a beginner. You can usually find a listing of programs and group under the international student page on your school’s website.


– Epicurious.com

– Sabina Ion, student, UNC-Chapel Hill

– IMDb

– iTunes

– Rebecca Kang, student, UNC-Chapel Hill

Jessica Stringer is a senior journalism major at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is originally from Woodbridge, VA. At UNC, she is the editorial director for Rival Magazine, a joint publication between UNC and Duke. She has previously written for the Daily Tar Heel, interned at DC Magazine and CNBC, and is a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. Jessica fell in love with London during her semester abroad and dreams of moving across the pond. Some of her favorite things include coconut cupcakes, Carolina basketball, old Hollywood movies, and her Havanese puppy Max.
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