Puebla Mágica: A Summer Abroad in Puebla, Mexico

 During 35 days of study abroad in Puebla, Mexico, Honors College Fellow and pre-med biology major Garrett Bethel observed numerous surgeries, everything from childbirth to gunshot trauma repair. In the middle of one procedure, Garrett recalls that the surgeon, Dr. Delgadillo, looked up and challenged the students observing him to “remember this experience and the people we had met along the way.” Garrett won’t soon forget the challenges faced by Mexico’s doctors and hospitals, where healthcare is completely free to all and demand is very high, and he marvels at the gratitude expressed by patients treated under trying circumstances. To decompress, he spent the weekends checking out Mexico’s rich history and sampling authentic, mouthwatering cuisine. 

Student takes selfie under waterfall with Go Pro.

Chilling out at Cascadas Las Brillas Waterfalls in Cuetzalán, México.

When translated from Spanish to English, the word pueblo means town. When thinking of a town, what images come to mind? Perhaps a smaller, sparsely populated area that is home to all the resources necessary to sustain its people – a grocery store, church, limited array of restaurants, school, sheriff’s office, etc. This is the exact mindset I had when planning my five-week study abroad experience in Puebla, Mexico. Upon arrival, however, all of my preconceptions of what Puebla would be like vanished completely, replaced by the sights and sounds of a metropolitan city. Puebla was not in fact the small, walkable town that I had imagined, but home to over 3 million people – more than my entire home state of Arkansas.

city skyline

Puebla, Mexico — home to more than 3 million people.

Perhaps more shocking than the vastness of the city was the widespread Americanization of Mexican consumer culture. We were greeted by our host families at our in-country university, La Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP). We threw our bags in the car and anxiously headed to see where we would be staying for the next five weeks. However, on the way home our host mom took a pit stop at Bentonville’s finest establishment – Walmart. I was over 1500 miles from my family but felt oddly at home with the abundance of signature American eateries and stores on the short 15-minute ride from the university to my new casa. Continue reading

Posted in Biology, J.William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, Mexico, Study Abroad | Leave a comment

Postcard from Valencia: Kassandra Salazar

Photo of young woman gesturing towards historic Spanish city.

Kassandra Salazar in the “Imperial City,” Toledo, Spain – the former capital of the Spanish Empire.


Honors international business major Kassandra Salazar learned a lot in her six weeks abroad, from the finer points of Castellano Spanish to the importance of comfortable walking shoes. Adjusting to the Spanish sense of time was an ongoing source of culture shock, but exploring ancient cities and enjoying the cooking of her host mom, Caridad, proved to be a major plus.

Hello Readers, I have just returned from six weeks abroad in Valencia, Spain. I was there to fulfill the study abroad requirement for my International Business major but also earn credits for my Spanish minor. I completed two courses, one in Spanish Cinema and one in Spanish Grammar. I enjoyed both of the courses, however, they were a bit challenging. The cinema class was an excellent way to learn about the different eras in Spanish culture and how the country suffered under Franco’s rule. It was also a really great way to expand my vocabulary. My grammar class also did the same for me, but was challenging to me because as a native speaker, I had never focused on grammar before. These classes both helped me immensely with my Spanish skills, but it was a little difficult at the beginning because I did not realize how different Castellano (the official language of Spain) was from Latin American Spanish, the language that I had grown up with. I am definitely inspired to continue practicing the language until I feel confident conducting business affairs in both English and Spanish.

My classes were finished at 2:00 in the afternoon, so I had the rest of the day to explore Valencia. I spent a lot of time in the central, historic part of the city where several different churches were found and even Roman ruins. I also made several trips to the beach, and even one to the City of Arts and Sciences, the cultural center of Valencia and the home to the largest aquarium in Europe. All of these things made Valencia the perfect study abroad location. It is the third largest city in Spain, so there was plenty to do and an excellent public transportation system that made getting around a breeze, but the city was just small enough to feel comfortable in. I always had a solid orientation of where I was, and getting across town wouldn’t take me more than 30 mins at any given time or from any location.

Young woman in front of an imposing doorway.

My home in Valencia.

I chose to do a homestay for my time abroad. I lived with a woman in her late 50’s named Caridad, a widow who loved traveling and hosting international students. She had a spacious apartment in an excellent area in Valencia. She was also a fantastic cook, which was both a blessing and a curse. The neatest part of my homestay by far was the fact that my roommate and I were not the only international students staying there, she housed three Italian students as well! These girls spoke four languages and we ended up bonding very well. It was so neat to live with not one, but two new cultures.

Speaking of cultures, I never believed that culture shock would be something that bothered me during my study abroad. My program went over the stages of culture shock in depth, but I figured it would pass in a week and be done with. Boy was I wrong. Culture shock is a roller coaster of emotions, but the hardest thing to adjust to for me was probably how slow paced the Spaniards live their lives. Nobody is ever really concerned with being punctual, and they wouldn’t dare rush though a social gathering or even a family lunch. We would sit and eat meals for hours at time which was hard for a person who can finish a meal in under 10 minutes without struggle. I’m used to every moment of my day being planned out, so I was constantly feeling like I needed to be doing something more with my time. A few weeks in I finally became accustomed to it, but it is not a lifestyle I could maintain long-term.

Young woman with sunglasses and backpack, pictured in coastal area.

Hiking in Basque Country.

When choosing a location to study abroad, I had a friend tell me I needed to go somewhere where I could have the most experiences and do as much traveling as possible. That is why I chose Spain, and all of the traveling I did was by far the best part of my experience. Every weekend I hit a new destination and the list includes: Madrid, Toledo, Alicante, and San Sebastian in Spain, along with Paris and Biarritz in France, and Rome, Italy.
That’s long list of cities for 6 weeks! I adored every place that I visited and I am eager to return to each one. I think the best thing I learned was how to navigate any city, and without cellular data connection either. It took a lot of trial and error and several hours of aimless wandering, but I am now confident that I could conquer any big city on my own (not that I’d want to, the buddy system remains very important). It is absolutely the best feeling. I thought I was independent and grown before my time abroad, but nothing could have prepared me for all the learning experiences I had in such a short time.

If there was one thing I wish I had known, it would’ve been to anticipate all of the walking that I did. As small and obvious as it seems, my life would have been so much easier if I had brought more than one pair of sensible shoes. Now I know for next time! I found my program through the study abroad office, but it was run by International Studies Abroad. Every aspect of the program was excellent, from the directors, to the homestay, even the classes! I would absolutely recommend this program to anybody looking to study anywhere around the world.

Posted in Honors College Study Abroad Grant, International Business/Marketing, Sam M. Walton College of Business, Spain, Study Abroad | Leave a comment

Mining the Potential of Gold Nanoparticles

David Jacobson in Australia

David Jacobson has left the lab for Australia this spring.

David Jacobson, an honors chemical engineering and physics junior, is helping us learn a little more about gold nanoparticles and their “nearly futuristic applications,” from the improvement of solar panels to the creation of cloaking devices (James Bondesque invisible sports coupe, anyone?). With laser beams and sometimes erratic lab equipment as his tools, Jacobson’s work might sound like science fiction, but under the direction of Dr. Roper, he’s been able to create real-world understanding about how light is scattered.  Continue reading

Posted in Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering, Physics, Research, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Taste of Istanbul: Sketching Connections in Turkey and Denmark

Last summer Adel Vaughn and 12 other landscape architecture students from the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design explored two very different 21st century cities: Istanbul, Turkey and Copenhagen, Denmark. For Adel, a sketchbook assignment became much more than an exercise in observation – it helped her to connect and bond with locals.

Sketching Connections  
Since much of studying landscape architecture in the built environment is done through observation and documentation of form, structure, physical elements and overall character of a space, the sketchbook acted as our medium for this documentation. The sketchbook went everywhere with me – every day, for hundreds of miles. I would normally start the drawings on-site and get as far as I could, then finish it out later while sitting at a cafe or restaurant.


A group of Turkish kids stopped by when I was drawing at Ephesus. I was telling them in the little, broken Turkish I knew: “I’m a student studying landscape architecture,” “I don’t really know much Turkish, but I’m learning,” “I’m from America” (when they asked), and “Thank you!” (when they told me the drawings were very nice).

Drawing at some of the cafes led to unique and unforgettable interactions with the locals, because they would give us insight on the symbols we were drawing, tell us a story about the sites we were drawing, or ask about the sketchbooks. There was one cafe in particular that my friend and I went to many times – we became friends with the guys who worked there, and they would even give us free çay (Turkish tea) and dessert. It was actually a tearful goodbye on our last night in Istanbul because we had grown close to the people there in such a short amount of time. We ended up doing some paintings for them to keep so that we all could remember those times.

Courtney_Adel_Turkey_Falls in Galata

This is Courtney and I with Omar, our very kind and outgoing waiter at Falls in Galata Cafe. We sat at this exact table almost every time we came – right on the edge of the patio watching what was happening on the tiny adjacent street.

The Sketches


Click to see Adel’s sketchbook at full size.

The water spigot, to me, is a symbol for Istanbul. They were all over the city – many right outside mosques where people would wash their hands and feet before entering, and others in seemingly random places. The one that I painted was in Gulhane Park near Topkapı Palace. It was such a beautiful element in the park, carrying a rich sense of history while embracing the newly blooming, bright red roses surrounding it. I actually put the final touches on this painting later in the summer while doing research in Berlin, so the memory of this one spans Europe!

waterspigot       bluedoor

The blue door is one of my favorites.  I love painting things that are clearly weathered and worn, and this door captured the heavy use of the while building in an area of Istanbul called Beşiktaş.  I just loved the character and colors in the door. Each drawing carries a meaning and a many memories for me.

Adel Vaughn’s summer studies and research were supported by Honors College Traditional Study Abroad and Travel Grants.

Posted in Fay Jones School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Study Abroad, Turkey, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Service Learning in Vietnam: Colleen Kretzer Helps Launch a New Program

Colleen helps dig a trench for a new, sustainable biogas fuel system in Hoa An, Vietnam.

Colleen helps dig a trench for a new, sustainable biogas fuel system in Hoa An, Vietnam.

Honors physics student Colleen Kretzer was one of the first students to participate in the new Global Community Development in Vietnam program. There, she helped to install two biogas systems that provide cheap, renewable fuel for families, and learned to love the lotus plant (flower, pod, seeds, stem, and root). Colleen learned first-hand about the resourcefulness of the Vietnamese, and will take home some great lessons in hands-on learning when she becomes a teacher.  Continue reading

Posted in J.William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, Physics, Study Abroad, Vietnam | Leave a comment

On WWOOFing, Beekeeping & (Sweet!) Blackberries: 5 Questions for Olivia Caillouet

Young woman wields clippers and lemons in an orchard.

Olivia harvests Meyer lemons at the Country Flat Farm in Big Sur, California. With approval from Curt Rom, her honors thesis advisor, she WWOOFed for course credit at the organic orchard.

Olivia Caillouet, an honors horticulture junior from Little Rock, believes that “there’s only so much you can learn in a textbook – you have to get out and complete it with hand’s on learning.” She’s gotten her hands deep in the soil—and into beehives—through a series of three internships. She did her honors thesis research on a new, deliciously sweet blackberry cultivar here in Fayetteville, and then moved on to work at organic farms in California and Puerto Rico. Continue reading

Posted in 5 Questions, Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food, and Life Sciences, Honors thesis, Horticulture, Internships | Leave a comment

Let’s Go! (Here’s How)


Students at the Sant’Andrea della Valle in Rome. From left to right: Emily Sugg, Bailey Pearson, Erick Arrizon, Tayler Trantham, Molly Drewyor, Hunter Vines, Anna Hudgeons. Photo courtesy of Joe Burns.

Do you fancy yourself studying sustainable development in New Zealand, interviewing Tibetan refugees on rooftops in India, or climbing the Duomo’s steps to overlook the hilly Florentine landscape? Good news: the Honors College has increased study abroad funding to cover 40%-50% of your costs, so with grant support, your semester abroad may actually be cheaper than attending classes here in Fayetteville. With a simplified application process, financial aid supplements, new short-term options and study abroad grants up for grabs (more than $500,000 were awarded last year), there’s never been a better time to get your passport and go.

Why Not Study Abroad?

Check any that apply:

__ Your schedule doesn’t have a lot of wiggle-room.

__ Foreign travel and your wallet don’t see eye to eye.

__ Exploring new parts of the world (with language barriers and travel logistics to work out) can be intimidating.

The Honors College can help. We have set an ambitious goal to raise the percentage of students studying abroad from 50% (already 4X the national average!) to 70% by the time they graduate. (This includes you!) To make this happen we’ve been working on some exciting new programs and simplifying the grant application process. Continue reading

Posted in Honors College Study Abroad Grant, Study Abroad, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Postcard from India: Jillian Tyler


Jill Tyler at the Taj Mahal

Jill Tyler, Honors College fellow and anthropology major, worked with the Tibetans in Exile Today program to document the lives of Tibetan refugees in India. After volunteering to conduct an interview with Sonam, a Tibetan freedom fighter, Jill recounts the surprise commonality she found with him and the reasons she considers herself forever changed by their shared experience.

When I signed up for the Tibetans in Exile Today (TEXT) program, I expected many things. I expected to gain an in-depth education on Tibetan culture. I expected to learn skills in video/audio work and to receive a crash course in journalism. I expected to live in the closest thing to a developing nation I had ever been to. But the one thing—the one person—I didn’t expect was Sonam. And never in a million years would I have ever seen myself sharing the hour with him that I did. It was an hour unlike any I had lived before. Continue reading

Posted in Anthropology, Honors College Study Abroad Grant, India, J.William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, Study Abroad | Leave a comment

Students: Got Art?

DSCF5308And want to share it? Send us your poems, drawings, short stories, photos, prints, paintings, or any other creative effort you have polished to perfection. All submissions will be considered for publication in a wide range of venues, including A+ Magazine, the Honors College blog and other social media. We’re also looking for creative work to display in Ozark Hall.

We’re always excited to shine a spotlight on the great pieces our students are creating, and it can be a great portfolio item and exposure for you! Deadline: October 1, 2015.


  • You must be an Honors College student in good standing in your honors program.
  • We’re looking for short stuff so keep written work under 1000 words.
  • Because we’ll have a wide audience, remember to keep it clean (think PG rating).
  • Limit five works per student.
  • Everything else is up to you! Have a genre or medium we’ve overlooked? Send that our way too.

How to submit:

Submit your work online using the Honors College Creative Work Submission form.

All rights are retained by the student. Check with publications in your field to know whether or not publication in Honors College materials will make a piece ineligible elsewhere.

Questions? Email Anthony Blake, Honors College Editor, at ab026@uark.edu.

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Snapshots from Rome

Ciao, amici! My name is Anna Hudgeons and I spent a month of my summer studying abroad in Rome, Italy. Although my major is industrial engineering, I decided to vary my experiences by enrolling in an art lecture/art history course and a basic photography course while in the beautiful city of Roma. From May 27th to June 27th, I expanded my academic and cultural horizons by attending the University of Arkansas Rome Center located in the heart of one of the oldest palaces in Rome, Palazzo Taverna. One cannot visit Roma without falling in love with the city and I am no exception! Please enjoy this photographical story of the amazing experience I had in Italy. Andiamo:


1. From the moment I stepped off the plane in Italy, I was enamored by the city. There was an intangible quality in the Roma atmosphere that made me immediately feel at home in a place that was extremely different than any other I had experienced before. In fact, I firmly believe that the profound history and the immense beauty of Rome inspired me to excel in my art and photography courses.


2. Although Italy is now my favorite place in the world, I definitely would not have had the same study abroad experience without these wonderful people. I went to Rome knowing only one person and came back with a multitude of friends! We studied for classes together, tried new and sometimes unidentified foods together, and just survived in a foreign country together. I am very excited to see these guys again on the U of A campus next fall! Friends photo outside the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere courtesy of Joe Burns (who is a friend not pictured here). Continue reading

Posted in College of Engineering, Honors College Study Abroad Grant, Industrial Engineering, Italy, Study Abroad | Tagged , , | Leave a comment