The first time that I went abroad was
with Parkland College I went to Seville Spain in within the spring semester 2015.
We focused on some history and religion of and culture of Seville and
so you know for me getting to be part of that was really extraordinary the
biggest cathedral in the world is in Seville as is one of the the biggest
Muslim artifacts got to observe a lot of intercultural architecture and view a
lot of history firsthand which not an opportunity that we get in the state’s
and that was really exciting to me. We did Spanish language study of course about 2
and 1/2 hours everyday which is as exhausting as it sounds we also studied
the art and culture in particular one of the people that was attached to
college worked in museums and ended up teaching flamenco classes to all of the
students or those who wanted them. I transferred from Parkland to the U of
I of course and majored in religion at the University of Illinois, got the
opportunity to go to the University of Manchester which is the third best
religious studies university in the UK and so I was really excited about that
and went there for a semester in the end of 2016 the program at the University of
Manchester was filled with scholars and other students with the same interest as
me and had a great time it’s a great university great city and so I ended up
going back for a year program to finish up my bachelor’s in 2017-18 and then
ended up doing grad school there which is what I’m working on at the moment. We tend to have very sort of short historical memories in the States and
some of that is just due to the fact that you know we as a country have only
existed for 250 years or so you can go to a church that’s a thousand years old
you can go to a museum that’s existed since the the Renaissance and that’s not
just not an opportunity you have here. Being able to understand the way the
societies change and adapt differently I think really influenced my view. You
cannot just expect all work to get done in six hours and be ready for you
whenever you want it and that is true in you know the the way that you go
shopping the way that you do transportation you know everything like
that it’s the the pace of life in the U.S. is definitely much quicker than in
the UK or in Spain. I grew up you know half an hour south of
here and so flying into another country and then having to get from the airport
the train station and the train station to Seville was a completely new thing
for me and so you know for me personally learning how to just sort of get by on
my own is something that I definitely initially learned through study abroad
and then the other thing is just don’t be daunted by sort of the initial
challenges study abroad programs will often come with an initial price tag and
the price tag can seem daunting but it’s also important realize that that price
tag comes with everything included so where you stay is included the food you
eat is included your studies are included you might do traveling on your
own but even so it’s less expensive than you think it is. Obviously if you travel
on your own you’ve never done that before that’s scary but there are people
there to help you know if you’ve never been in a country where you don’t speak
the language before it that’s scary too but your professors are there to give
you advice and have watched other people go through this will be able to help you
get through it.