Education Abroad Photo & Writing Contest

Studying abroad is an amazing experience that is often hard to explain. Show us your creativity by submitting your photos and stories from abroad in one of our contests!

Education Abroad Writing Contest

Writing Contest

Education Abroad is excited to announce the Penn State Education Abroad Writing Contest. This is an excellent opportunity to showcase your creativity and talent and to communicate your experiences to a broad audience. This contest is open to all current Penn State students who have participated, or are currently participating, in a study abroad program through Penn State Education Abroad. Students from all majors, and all study abroad program types (short-term, long-term, faculty-led), are welcome to participate.

2020 Education Abroad Writing Contest Winners

We are pleased to announce the two winners of the 2020 Writing Contest.

A Day in the Life – Madison Krieger | “Queso, Lengua and Four and a Half Tortoises” | Dept EDU: PIRE

A Defining Moment – Katrina Verlinde | “An Evening in Huangshen” | Beijing, China: Impact of Culture on Engineering in China

Writing Contest Details:

  • Submissions for the 2020 Writing Contest are now closed. Check back for updates about our 2021 Writing Contest
  • Submissions must be based on one of the following prompts:
    • A Day in the Life: Describe a typical day on your study abroad program, and help the reader step into your shoes for a day spent abroad. Please focus this piece on your main study abroad location, not somewhere you went on an excursion or on personal travel
    • A Defining Moment: When you think of your study abroad experience, what jumps out as the most memorable part or moment? Describe that part of your experience and why it meant to much to you
  • All entries must be submitted through the Writing Contest Submission Form in either Microsoft Word format (.doc/.docx) or as a PDF document
    • Length: 500 - 1,000 words
    • Students should submit no more than one writing piece per prompt
  • Students will be required to include the following: first and last name, Penn State email address, education abroad program name, and the title of the submission


  • Education abroad staff will choose one winner for each prompt
  • Prizes for the 2021 Writing Contest will be announced at a later date

Submission Guidelines:

Submissions must reflect the student's time abroad in a significant way. To that end, students are granted creative licenses to compose stories, essays, etc. that will engage, and appeal to, a broad audience. Students should be especially aware of how their host culture is depicted in their submissions.

Only non-fiction pieces will be considered. Submissions should be in clear, intelligent prose with no major spelling or grammatical errors.

Accompanying photos and/or illustrations are welcome, provided they are the exclusive property of the student. Submitting a photo and/or an illustration does not guarantee that it will be published. Photo submissions will not be a factor in choosing the winning submissions.

What not to Write:

“My time abroad was amazing because ...” While we love to hear that you had an amazing experience, it should not be the primary objective of your writing submission. If you wish to convey what you consider the best qualities of your host country, follow the writing guideline of “show, don’t tell.” In other words, don’t tell us that you had an amazing time, show us what was amazing by using vivid descriptions of people and places.


Penn State Education Abroad will have full rights to use and circulate all writing submissions, with attribution to the author.

Education Abroad Photo Contest

Education Abroad is excited to announce the 2020 Penn State Education Abroad Photo Contest. Studying abroad is an amazing experience that is often hard to explain in words. Celebrate and share your global experience by entering the best photos you snapped while studying abroad. 

A special note to our spring 2020 education abroad students: 

We recognize that your study abroad experience presented exceptional challenges and that it was not what you were anticipating in many ways, most obviously in the length of the experience abroad. Regardless, we want to share this opportunity with you, as your unique perspective on study abroad holds just as much value as completing the experience in the way it was originally planned. We hope that you will still consider participating in this photo contest to help share some of the positive experiences you had while abroad.

2020 Photo Contest Details

  • Submissions Open: Wednesday, September 9, 2020, at 12:00 PM (EDT)
  • Submissions Close: Wednesday, September 23, 2020, at 12:00 PM (EDT)
  • All entries must be submitted through the online Photo Contest Submission Form
  • One winner will be selected for each of the following categories:
    • We Are...Abroad! (Judged by our Education Abroad Peer Advisers): We want to see you, our Penn State students, in your host environment and/or out exploring the world. (Showing Penn State pride is a bonus!)
    • Views and Vistas (Judged by Global Programs and Penn State Staff Members): For this category, we want to see the landscapes of your host country, the sweeping countrysides, or the bustling metropolis!
      • Because of the wide differences in the locations where our students study, there will be two winners in this category. One will be selected from city scenes, and the other will be from nature and landscape scenes.
    • Local Culture & Sustainability (Judged by Global Programs and Penn State Staff Members): We know Penn State students love to take action and engage with their host countries and cultures. For this category, we want photos of students engaged in active learning or making cultural connections. (Photos highlighting sustainability efforts or students engaging with the host culture environment is a bonus!)
    • Grand Prize Winner (Judged by Global Programs Leadership)

Submission Guidelines

  • Submissions that include offensive content or inappropriate subject matter, such as drinking, swearing, nudity, or any unlawful behavior, will not be considered.
  • Submissions that include students participating in risk-taking behavior (i.e. skydiving, cliff jumping, scuba diving) will not be considered.
  • Submissions that include interactions with animals that could be perceived as harmful will not be considered.
  • Submissions that include images of people, including children, will not be considered unless there is evidence that they granted you permission to take their picture.
  • Please do not re-submit photos that you have submitted in past photo contests.
  • Preference will be given to photos taken in the program host location.
  • Please remember that you were a visitor in your host country. You should be sure that your submissions are respectful to the people and culture of the host country.


  •  The grand prize winner will receive a Cotopaxi bag, a scratch-off map of the world, and a Global Programs goodie bag.
  •  The first-place winner in each category will receive a scratch-off map of the world and a Global Programs goodie bag.
  •  Winners will see their photos featured on future Education Abroad promotional materials as well as on our social media channels.

Submit Your Photo

  • All entries must be submitted through the online Photo Contest Submission Form.
  • Please keep in mind the following image specifications:
    •  Photos should be submitted in a common image format such as a JPG, PNG, etc.
    •  Photos should be submitted in the highest resolution available to you (ideally 300 dpi).
  • If you would like to submit more than one photo, you will need to complete the Photo Contest Submission form for each photo submitted.


By submission of photographs for this contest, the student grants The Pennsylvania State University the right to use, reproduce, and publish said photographs for any lawful purpose without compensation or any other consideration. Students must affirm that they have gained approval from the subjects in the images submitted and that subjects are aware that Penn State University has the right to use, reproduce and publish said photographs for any lawful purpose without compensation or any other consideration.