I think reflection
is one of those things that once you get a taste of
it, and once you get a taste of how it makes you think differently and how engaged it makes
you feel in your life, you just don’t want to go back ever. – A lot of times after people study abroad and they come back, they
don’t really get the chance to reflect on their experience. – So I thought that it
would be a really cool idea to take a class that’s
focused on largely reflecting on your study abroad experience. Not only how you experience that country or that place when you were abroad, but how that experience
changed you as a person and how it carries into
your every day life. – So the course was
co-taught by Francine A’Ness and Prudence Merton,
and they work together to just kind of facilitate
really deep discussions and reflection via journals and just in class activities. – I actually went on two FSP programs. One was the South Africa and Namibia FSP with the environmental studies department, and then last winter I went on the biology foreign studies program
based in Costa Rica and the Cayman Islands. – I got to meet scientists
from all over the world which is really really unique. I got to go through all different types of ecosystems, like dry
forest, tropical forest, the mountain regions. – Being able to apply
the skills that I learned in say a predetermined lab in a real world setting, really reinvigorated my initial interest in studying those
subjects, and I didn’t want to relinquish that when I came back. – A lot of times you come
back to the same place and you kind of have a
hard time reconciling all these new feelings that you have, and all this growth that you
feel like you’ve gone through. With a place that looks
pretty much the same, you get back into the same routines and there’s not really
an outlet for people to talk about their experiences
except for with the group that they went with because
it’s very hard to convey everything that happened in a nine or 10 week program abroad. – While I was abroad
I was very much caught up in the moment of the whole experience of just being in a new country. When I got back I
started keeping a journal of my study abroad
experience rather than doing it while I was there. Being able to experience
it again kind of gave it more meaning. – I worked on creating a
website that integrated the reflective essays
that I had from class on each of the locations that I went to, with poetry that I
constructed looking back and reflecting on that experience, and the photographs that I
took in each of those places. My story begins with a journey to a place where the rainforest meets
the sea, the Osa Peninsula. A remote stretch of dense rainforests. We learned how to integrate
sound and narration to the still frames that we took. A place National Geographic calls the most biologically rich terrestrial
ecosystem on earth. – I’ll never forget
that strange combination of motions I felt on the morning. I loved making something
that I could actually show people and that
told a story and forcing myself to piece together
these photos that I thought were maybe disconnected
and then picking music that made me happy and
reminded me of my time there. – Every day in France I
walked along the River Saone listening to the gentle
rushing waters somewhere below my feet. In France water was just
very central to my way of living and that’s very
similar to how I live back home in Montana
because I live on a lake. And so I feel like I intertwined
those two experiences to kind of make it feel more
like home while I was abroad. – A lot of my peers that
went on the program with me, I was hanging out with
them when I was doing my final project for this class and I was talking about all
of these things that happened on our program and kind of
saying what they meant to me, and they were kind of blown of way. They’d be like I haven’t
thought about that since we were there. I haven’t really understood or given myself the space to think through this since we were there and I’m like kind of jealous
that you’ve been able to unpack it in this class. So I think it’s something that
anyone that has gone abroad can really benefit from.