About Us

The Study Abroad Experience is a multi-writer blog operated and maintained by University of Oklahoma students who are currently in study abroad programs. We have twelve writers in as many countries, and hope to add more in the future! Below are brief biographies for each writer.


Brian Murff: Founder, Editor

I’m a junior studying in Kunming, China, at Yunnan Normal University. My interests include literature, technology, and cuisine, and I hope to incorporate these elements into my coverage of life in Kunming. After my semester ends in June, I plan on traveling across China, visiting most major cities and moving north along the east coast, eventually ending up in Japan with Zach Heines for a week or so.

Zach Heines: Site Design, Editor

I’m a junior studying in Kyoto, Japan at Ritsumeikan University. Generally, my interests encompass most things related to Japan, and all things technology. I currently work as a technology consultant at a video production company while at home and, well, study while at school. Hopefully I’ll get to visit most of the major technology Meccas while in Japan, so I’m looking forward to posting about that.


Deanna Strafuss: Writer

I am a sophomore at OU majoring in Spanish and maybe Spanish Education. I also plan to minor in French.  I am from Collierville, TN, a suburb of Memphis.  I am currently studying abroad in Quito, Ecuador in order to both improve on my Spanish and experience culture in Latin America.  So far, I love the country and the university I’m studying at, Universidad San Fransisco de Quito.  During my four and a half months here, I plan on touring the Galapagos islands, hiking, experiencing Latin American clubs, and of course, taking tons of pictures.  I’m so excited to share my experience on this blog!



Caitlin Vaughan: Writer

I’m a sophomore at OU majoring in Energy Management and International Business.  I will be studying at Karl-Franzens Universität in Graz, Austria from February 11th-July 1st. I hope to travel a lot as well, and just bought a Eurail pass for Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Croatia, and Slovenia. Preparation for this trip has caused many headaches (including the University having no idea I would be there), but it will be well worth it. I’ll be taking of plenty of pictures and writing throughout my time in Graz, so be sure to check it out. Oh… and I’m living on Wiener Straße…think about it.


Leah Barbata: Writer

Originally from a coastal hippie town in the heart of the California redwoods, I later moved to a conservative small town in Oklahoma with literally a church on every corner. Needless to say, I felt a little out of place especially having hippie musicians as parents. Discovering Norman and deciding to attend the University of Oklahoma was an excellent choice as they have one if the not the largest exchanges in the world. I am 21 and currently attending OU with an unknown graduation date; I will probably be attending school in some form or fashion for the rest of my life. I love life and try to keep as much of an open mind as possible without allowing my brains fall out. I’m an International & Area Studies major with a minor in German and Linguistics. In March I am going on an experience of a lifetime to study and live in the romantic city of Heidelberg, Germany from March to the end of July. I never thought I would be the kind of person to believe in love at first sight, but Heidelberg has proven me wrong. Let’s just hope it’s not one sided ^_^.

Haley Mulford: Writer

I am a Junior at OU studying International Relations and Political Science. This semester I will be attending school in Pretoria, South Africa at the University of Pretoria. My interests are human rights, politics, and international law, which I plan to incorporate into my curriculum here. While in South Africa I hope to travel around the country and to neighboring countries to see the different cultures of Africa. I will also be getting involved in the community to leave my mark on South Africa. I am looking forward to this semester and sharing my experiences.

Jeff Stewart: Writer

I’m studying at La Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA). The cuatrimestre begins the first of March, but I am in Buenos Aires from January 10th through July 1st. I’m majoring in Chemical Engineering and have a minor in Spanish, and I hope to improve my Spanish by living here. Currently I’m taking two classes at UBA, one technical class and the other differential equations, and I might take another Spanish class as well. In the two months I have until I start classes, I plan to go to Patagonia for two weeks and maybe try to go to Rio for Carnival. In my free time I often go running or read, so I will probably post regularly about those topics. For questions, email me at JStewart@ou.edu

Holly Roe: Writer

My name is Holly Roe, I am a junior Letters major and Spanish minor at the University of Oklahoma. I am originally from Tulsa, OK and since high school have been deeply interested in studying abroad. This past summer I had the opportunity to study at Oxford through OU’s Honor’s college and had one of the most incredible times seeing England and even getting a chance to go to Paris for a weekend. I enjoyed being abroad so much that I am now returning to Europe but this time for a semester! I will be living in Valencia, Spain from the beginning of February until the end of July and absolutely cannot wait. I love Spanish and I love learning about different cultures, and hope that I will get even more out of studying abroad than I can even grasp at the moment. I encourage everyone to study abroad because in addition to learning about new cultures, you also learn a whole lot about yourself!

Nena Cavel: Writer

Hello! My name is Nena Cavel; I am a Political Science/Chinese Junior at OU.  I am originally from Lawton, Oklahoma. I enjoy cooking, reading, watching movies, traveling. This semester I will be studying at Minzu University in Beijing China. I decided to study abroad because I want to improve my language skills and to better understand Chinese culture. I am especially excited to go bargain hunting and to try some authentic Chinese food.



  1. Hey guys
    I had a look at your blog – very interesting!
    I am doing an AIESEC traineeship (I am brazilian and the traineeship is in London!) in GlobalCampus, a website that helps students find opportunities abroad. Our services are free for both students and universities – our idea is to promote social change by making talent meet opportunity. Beatiful idea, I think!
    Either if you are looking for other opportunities for studying abroad or if you could use some 5 minutes to have a look there and comment on your university, I would be really glad to see you there!
    Thanks for the attention and good luck with your future projects!

  2. Hey Guys,

    At the outset I’d like to say that your blog is very enjoyable. Great work.

    I’m a student of journalism at Columbia University, New York and am writing a story on study abroad programs.

    I would like to ask you guys about your academic arrangements and your experiences to use in my story. I’m also interested in the experiences of your friends who were/are enrolled in different programs and countries.

    If you are willing to help me with this story, please get in touch with me at nk2386@columbia.edu or 347-556-9535



    K. S. Nikhil Kumar
    Graduate School of Journalism
    Columbia University

  3. Really cool website –

    I can relate I am going on my first study abroad trip from UM (University of Miami) to Regents College in london –

    You guys should keep writing about your experiences and what to do and what mistakes were made on trips. I am so excited to study abroad university

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