Make “Back to School” Better with Study Abroad & Missions

As summertime fades and murmurs of returning to the classroom hang in the air, we thought we’d remind all college students out there why you should make your next “back to school” be abroad.


You could go back to school shopping for supplies like spiral notebooks and a pencil bag…

Or your back to school list could look like this:

Study Abroad ChecklistYou could go back to school and learn about the history of Roman civilization…

Or you could experience it.

You could go back to school to rock climb at the Rec Center or play intramural sports…

Or you could go on a real field trip.

kylieslayden_mtngroupYou could go back to school to a long commute on campus transportation or spend all your gas finding a parking spot…

Or you could get to class like this:

Double Decker bus You could go back to school on a diet of Ramen noodles and $5 Hot-n-Ready Little Caesar’s pizzas…

Or you could munch on Spanish tapas, devour Italian pizza and gelato, savor a crepe in Paris, or indulge in street food in Latin America (Tacos aren’t just for Tuesdays).

Friends Study Abroad in Italy You could go back to school to your same old routine…

Or you could make a difference in a local community and have a life-changing experience.

Study Abroad and Missions to the DR


You are difference makers and world changers. The typical college experience is not enough. You’ve seen unacceptable realities in the world and said, “That’s not okay.” You know there is more: more to learn, more to discover, more to grow, more who need to know the love of Christ. Make your next Back to School experience be a meaningful one—study and serve the nations.

Apply now to study abroad and do missions with Veritas Christian Study Abroad!

Image credit: Thomas Shahan, Kevin Poh, Karen Chan, Emily Motley

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5 Reasons Study Abroad and Missions Are Better Together

Study abroad and missions in ItalyStudy abroad or missions? Yes.

It may come as a surprise to many, but study abroad and missions do not have to be mutually exclusive. Committing to a semester studying abroad does not mean sacrificing opportunity for ministry. Serving through international missions does not mean compromising on academics.

It’s not this or that—it’s both. And the marriage of the two can actually make each one better. Veritas Christian Study Abroad shows you how:

  1. Go long(er) term. Short-term missions are great for people with schedules that allow only a week or a long weekend for a mission trip. As a college student, you have the advantage. When you study abroad for a semester or summer, you have the chance to spend one to four months—even a full academic year—abroad. You’re not giving up undergrad time because you’re still working on your degree while you serve overseas. Two birds, one stone, they say.
  2. Double your return. In the same two-for-one spirit, think of the time and money you’ll save when you combine study abroad with missions. Save money on flights, accommodations, visas, and more. Instead of using scholarships and financial aid for one program and fundraising for another, why not combine your efforts and increase the affordability of your experience!                                                                                                                  French Language Exchange Paris
  3. Immerse yourself. The Veritas model is designed to let each component support the other. As a student, you want to learn the language and culture of your host country and experience it to the fullest. Through your Mission Mentor and involvement with local churches and ministries, you have  intentional access to the local community and culture where you’re living. In addition to the exposure you’ll get from your classes and excursions, you’ll take local transportation to your ministry site; you’ll worship and pray with locals in their homes; you’ll serve in  a variety of ministries with children, youth, and adults. As a missionary, you want to build relationships and share the gospel. Studying abroad widens your field of ministry beyond the locals. Not only will you have the opportunity to serve the local community in your host country but also the students and professors in your academic community.                                                      Christian Study Abroad
  4. Get support on all fronts. Before you go abroad, you’ll receive comprehensive advising and support from our U.S. office. Once you’re abroad, you have access to a full-time resident staff who will provide support in all areas from academics to culture to excursions. Your Mission Mentor offers spiritual support and helps you connect to ministry and community as well as process your experiences and expectations abroad.
  5. Develop a mission lifestyle. When you study and serve with Veritas, you will learn how to manage your time between school, social life, ministry, and everyday living. Instead of spending five days, eight hours a day doing solely volunteer work, you will spend five weeks to several months building relationships and serving a community while still living life as a student. Veritas alumni say this aspect always surprises them but they are so glad they can return home with experience living a life on mission.

You know the reasons, now go! Leverage the cross-cultural benefits study abroad affords alongside the spiritual support and ministry opportunities missions provides. You don’t have to choose one or the other.

Apply now to study and serve with Veritas Christian Study Abroad!

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How Spain Changed What I Thought About Faith & Missions

When I began the ministry portion of the Veritas program, I was almost underwhelmed.

Four days prior to my arrival in Madrid, I had arrived home from a two-week medical mission trip in Haiti. From a pre-medical student perspective, medical clinics earned the gold medal of serving.

Thus, the relationally-minded and less direct mission opportunities in Sevilla perplexed me. I found it difficult to place volunteering at an English fair or a university English club on the same level as medical missions.

My participation in Veritas Christian Study Abroad challenged me and brought me far outside of my comfort zone. From the moment my feet touched Spanish soil, surrounded by foreign streets, routines, and concepts, I have encountered different types of people from Spaniards to Americans to Danish to Argentinians and more. Some have been Christians while others have been agnostic or Muslim.

study Abroad Mission Trip to Sevilla Spain

Through my work at the English fair, I informed the surrounding community about the new Christian school, and connected our missions mentors with local Spaniards for more ministry opportunities. While frustrating to a point, we still sowed seeds—we just couldn’t immediately see the fruits of our labor.

Now I know our ministry helped lay the foundation for future ministry.

We prayed over the actual foundation of the school that will house children learning English, art, music, science, and most importantly, the love of our Savior!

As I experienced more and more in Sevilla, my world became bigger with more things for
me to think and see and try to reconcile with my world beliefs.

I spoke to Sharon Owens, my missions mentor, on several occasions about how uncomfortable Spain had made me. I felt as though this experience challenged everything I knew and believed—even the way I saw myself. She directed me towards the book of James. Although I was trying to figure everything out, this questioning and doubting of what I knew was actually helping me grow in my maturity, faith, and love towards others.

This experience took my perspective outside Western culture and my American ideas of faith and Christianity. I saw my faith for its biblical truth and theology without having to look through a cultural lens.

After this Christian study abroad program with Veritas, I have gained patience with myself and others. Now, I understand that learning and  adapting is a process. You must actively seek to understand and respect your surroundings and see the God breath in every person.

Through engaging in these ministries, I realized my short-term work with these organizations paved a way for long-term results.

My interactions with each person, however short and insignificant they seemed, accomplished the greatest amount of good in the smallest amount of time in the most significant way.

Mission Trip Church in Spain After doing missions in Spain, I realize cross-cultural ministry cannot stop at short
term. It takes consistency and relationships. Charity is not the only form of ministry nor is
manual labor. The laid-back pace of life in Spain taught me to slow down, savor, and take things in. The passion of the people showed me to seek adventure and beauty in each smile
and street and sunbeam around me.

While I have been far removed from the familiar, I have discovered the beauty of life and fallen more in love with the people my Savior has created. I have embraced my times of doubt and discomfort and taken to the words of James, knowing that the more uncomfortable I am with the world around me, the more I must rely on my faith and the stronger my love for Christ will become.

Even though there were moments where I was discourage beyond help it seemed, I learned more about myself. I know I have greater capacity for compassion and empathy than I realized, and patience is something I will always be learning.

As an individual constantly seeking adventure and new experiences, my time in Spain
with my mission mentors and my fellow Veritas peers proved to be more than I could have imagined. It was not what I expected in any capacity, but it challenged and stretched me in ways I didn’t know I could be challenged and stretched.

I feel a sense of humility and gratitude at being given such an experience and can only pray other students have as meaningful as an encounter with such a vibrant culture.

Never have I been more aware of the world past my front porch. The five weeks I
spent in Spain overwhelmed me with new experiences and taught me to take life as it
comes, with my eyes fixed on my Savior.


This post is by Maddison McBurnie, a Veritas Christian Study Abroad student who completed a program this summer in Sevilla, Spain.

Have you ever been “let down” by an experience? Have your worldviews ever been challenged? Get your world rocked and your expectations shattered when you study abroad and do missions with Veritas.

Veritas Christian Study Abroad offers a unique spiritual component to an accredited study abroad experience. Don’t just earn credit toward your degree, change lives, including your own. Find out how on veritasabroad.com.

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This Is Not What You Think—It’s More

So, it’s study abroad and a mission trip? Like that time I went to New Orleans with my youth group, and we cleaned houses for eight hours straight, then did kids clubs and ended with worship and devos every night?

Not exactly.


 

Short-term missions: you come in, you work long hours with an itinerary full of service, ministry, and outreach.

These experiences are great. In fact, they serve as a good starting point for people getting involved with missions. That week you spent handing out toothbrushes in Nicaragua helped children practice better hygiene. The two weeks you did VBS for kids and sang “My God Is So Big” more times than you thought possible—that brought a smile to a child’s face, and made them feel more love than they’ve felt, maybe ever.

More than any impact you had in-country, is the impact the trip had on you. Maybe you had never seen poverty like that in your life, and the joy of the people in spite of this poverty inspired you. You laughed, you cried, you came home with friendship bracelets and a full heart.  This experience rocked your world, and you saw the Lord work in ways you’ve never seen back home.

Back home—where you return to the normal, everyday routine of life.

We don’t all completely forget about our experiences on short-term missions, but we may reserve ministry for a designated mission trip, rather than incorporate it into our day-to-day lives.

Veritas Christian Study Abroad aims to change that.

wilson_merrygoroundHolly Travis, a student at Mississippi State University, had been on a number of short-term mission trips before she studied abroad in Cusco, Peru. Cusco was nothing like those previous trips, she says.

“With short-term trips, I spent a week focused on ministry and woke up each day with the sole purpose of building relationships with kids or painting schools in order to share the gospel. However, in Cusco, I woke up and had to do household chores, attend class, and take public transportation to meet friends or shop for any needed groceries. Although we were part of ministry work in the girls’ home, our days were filled with numerous other activities.

The Lord taught me the importance of allowing him to be part of my daily routine and look for ways to share him with others as I went about my day. I began searching for opportunities to be a light on the buses and in classrooms with other American students.

It is easy to stay focused on sharing him with others on an intense short-term trip, but upon return to the United States, that routine loses its hold…Thankfully, I learned how to minister as I went in Cusco which is something I have brought back to my home in the United States.”

Veritas aims to develop mission-minded students—students who do not compartmentalize their faith and missions apart from their everyday living. After a session or semester abroad with Veritas, students will have a better understanding of their faith and how missions fits into that. With Mission Mentors, students have spiritual support alongside the academic and cultural support a study abroad program provides.

Looking for something more out of your study abroad experience? Join students who are learning first-hand that study abroad and missions are not mutually exclusive. Study abroad with international missions—that’s what makes Veritas different.

“I am incredibly thankful for all I have learned during my time in Cusco. I am confident the lessons I have learned will ripple through the rest of my life.” -Holly Travis

Study Abroad Mission Trip

 

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How God Set Me Free From Myself

Six Weeks.

Once such a daunting number, now not enough time.

Once a thought that made me want to curl up in a ball, now a period of time that is done and over with too soon.

What I am about to share is a story of how our God sets people free in a different way than you may be used to. We hear stories of God setting people free from debt, slavery, and addiction, but I want to tell you a story of how God set me free from myself.

At the moment I allowed all my weaknesses to consume my mind I thought, I can’t do this. I can’t fail again.

Two summers ago, I felt called to serve at a Christian camp for the summer. A bit of a distance from home, I knew I wouldn’t get to see family or friends that often, but I thought I could sum up enough strength to push through the summer. I hadn’t been there 24 hours before I was looking at the steering wheel of my car, driving out of that camp in tears because I knew I couldn’t find the strength in myself to continue. God revealed his will to me, and I failed at completing it.

This experience has haunted me ever since.

I have a calling on my heart though: to serve the children of God in other countries. When I came across the opportunity to go to the Dominican Republic, I pushed it to the side and didn’t really think about it much. I reminded myself of the time I failed and tossed the pamphlet into my junk drawer. I continued to search for things to do in the upcoming summer that would be cool, life changing, and you guessed it—close to home.

Nothing worked out, and nothing felt right though. One day, I came across the Veritas Christian Study Abroad pamphlet for Dominican Republic again and began to flip through it.

International Missions to Dominican Republic

I realized the control I let my previous experience have on my life, and I didn’t like it.
God started to pour verses about strength and freedom into my heart, and I couldn’t help but feel his prompting to take a leap of faith. After a series of crazy twists and turns of getting paperwork signed, making appointments, and getting accepted to the program, I knew without a doubt this was God’s will for me.

How insane that I am sitting here now, on the other side of that big calling, having finished the race that God had set for me for this season. Little did I know I would end up sharing my story of bondage in a small living room on the mountain in La Otra Banda to a group of sweet 10-16 year old girls just a week before returning home.

No, my story of bondage does not look the same as theirs—we all have different struggles—but the general story of being held captive by anything looks identical.

Being able to bring my heart out into total vulnerability to these girls changed me.

Study Abroad and Missions to the DR

Realizing the reason for my struggles and the difficulty of this calling was not just so that God could work in me, but God wanted to use my story to work in young girls who were bound by the idea that they had to gain the attention of men to be worth anything in life.

During this talk I realized I had been set free from the bondage I placed on myself. I could speak of freedom as it actually is without fear that of it being something that I myself didn’t even have.

God changed my heart. What seemed so hard turned into something so incredibly beautiful. Through this I got to learn the value of seeing the beauty that comes from doing God’s will. I have gained so much fullness from being where he wants me and so much freedom from wanting his will for my life more than anything.


This post is by Emily Motley, a Veritas Christian Study Abroad student who completed a program this summer in Dominican Republic.

How have you experienced freedom in the Lord? Do you know your story can change lives—even across cultures? Veritas Christian Study Abroad offers a unique spiritual component to an accredited study abroad experience. Don’t just earn credit toward your degree, change lives, including your own. Find out how on veritasabroad.com.

 

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Packing to Study Abroad in Sevilla

kappers_packingI thought I’d take a post to talk about the things I’m glad I packed, things I regret packing, and things I wish I had packed/known when deciding how best to spend my 100 pounds. So, here it goes:

Things I’m so glad I brought: these are the things that I never thought I would need, but ended up being glad I did!

  1. My winter hat. I seriously grabbed this on my way out of the basement the day before I left. I LIVED in this hat for the first month I was here.
  2. An extension cord. Again, something I grabbed at the last minute. Makes life sooo much easier! Especially when hotels never seem to put outlets in good places.
  3. A Loofah! Ya know, the cheap kind you can get for like $0.80 at target the day before you leave because you think, “why not?”. Why is this so great? Because when you use a loofah, you get lots and lots of suds with very little soap. I’ve gone three months on a travel sized container of body soap, and I promise I’m not gross (you can ask my roommate if you want!)
  4. Beach towels. Fairly self-explanatory, but oh so useful for laying on the roof, the beach, or picnicking in the park!
  5. Personally I’m glad that I brought my own full bottles of shampoo and conditioner, but that’s only because I have a sulfate allergy and have to buy special stuff. But, for anyone else I would recommend you only bring travel sizes because things like that and toothpaste are super easy to find here. Except sunscreen actually. Sunscreen is expensive here.

Things I wish I hadn’t brought: things I thought I would need and never did.

  1. Shoes. I have at least 3 pairs of shoes that I have worn once at most the whole time I’ve been here. A lot of this is due to the fact that I walk everywhere, and a lot of shoes aren’t comfortable for walking in. Also, the streets in Seville tend to do a number on the toes of my shoes, so I avoid wearing my nice suede boots around.
  2. My Spanish dictionary/verb book/books in general. They take up tons of space, and I never touched them because nowadays we have these really cool things called Apps which do everything you could ever ask of those books and more, all on your phone. Not worth it. I’m actually leaving my dictionary here because I don’t want to take up that weight.
  3. So many sweatshirts! Seriously. I don’t have any need for FOUR sweatshirts here. Two would have sufficed. Especially because if you wear a hoodie with a big logo or writing on it here you feel like you look really American and somewhat trashy.
  4. Any clothes that I rarely wear at home but thought “oh, but I might want that at some point!” LIES. I never wanted them.
  5. Along with sweatshirts, coats. I somehow ended up with three coats of approximately the same functionality and warmth. These are really bulky, so right now they’re taking up a lot of space and weight in my suitcase that could have been used for other things.

A few other things:

  • You run out of weight long before room.
  • If you put something bright on your suitcase (like pink argyle duct-tape) your luggage is really easy to spot as soon as it comes out. If you put your name on it someone might even see it and call your name out!
  • If you ever need to buy a suitcase in Spain, go to a Chino. Actually, if you ever need to buy anything in  Spain, go to a Chino. (Chinos are stores run by Chinese immigrants, and they have everything you could ever imagine needing for very cheap)
  •  If you want a seat to yourself on the plane, spend a considerable amount of time deciding which row people are least likely to choose to sit in when choosing seats online. For me this always means towards the back, and a window seat in the middle of a large group of empty seats. I think it’s because people follow patterns, so if there are seats filling in row by row on the plane, they’re more likely to just pick the next row, which might just be yours.

Written by: Rebecca Kappers from Trinity International University, Veritas Christian Study Abroad in Sevilla, Spain, Spring 2014

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A New View of Missions!

Fincher_groupwith oceanDuring my study abroad experience with Veritas Christian Study Abroad in Sevilla Spain, I have learned a lot about long-term missions. I had never met a missionary before coming to Spain, especially not one from Europe. I also had a very inaccurate view of full-time missionaries. After meeting Lara, Jon and Sandy, and Carey and Sharon, my whole view of long term missions has been changed. In the cases of both AMAD,  TEAM, and the school with Carey and Sharon, they are working through long term goals and projects.

When I would go on my week to two week long mission trips, going door to door, painting churches, running a kid’s camp, and passing out water bottles on the streets is a good ministry. I never thought to assign other tasks to mission workers. The work of the missionaries that I have met is slow, and it requires much patience. When I came to Spain, knowing that we would be doing ministry with these missionaries, I thought that I would be doing all the things I would do on my week long mission trips with my church, just for three months. What, in fact, I did was assist them with their ministry for three months. I had to be the one to work slowly, and I was the one who required patience. When our outreach in Osuna did not work out as planned, Lara and Sandy did not blink an eye. We just ended up having a normal Saturday in Osuna. That is because their ministry is not focused and did not rely on that one park outreach that we had planned. The fact that 10 college students were walking around town passing out flyers was ministry enough. All we did that weekend as far as “service” goes was walk around town and bring attention to Lara, Sandy and Eva, who the town knows is associated with a Christian ministry. So even though our attempt at a park outreach failed, we still did what we came to do, which was to assist AMAD and bring exposure to that ministry. Another valuable thing I learned is what it really looks like to be an overseas missionary and be involved in cross cultural missions.

Paige Fincher, University of Arkansas, Spring 2014

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