I fell in love with the strange city of Tokyo while studying abroad, and I didn’t want to leave. I stayed for longer than the program length, and I got back just in time for classes to start here at Nova [with the fall semester]. My time abroad caused me to change and grow so much. It was extremely difficult to live in Tokyo due to the language barrier and cultural differences, but I felt like the challenge made me a better person.
I spent the beginning of this summer in Central America. I was volunteering through WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) at two sites in Costa Rica for a few weeks. I missed my flight back, so I decided to travel through Panama for 10 days and then back to Costa Rica. After returning to the states, I went to Kentucky for the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship, where I acted as the PA state representative. There, we debated and formed a report for the 10 most critical global threats of our generation, in addition to taking classes at Transylvania Univ. and Univ. of Kentucky. Aside from this, I spent some time with family and friends at home.
I would say that the summer program in Prague has truly challenged the way that I view the world and has opened my eyes to new insights. Everyday was a challenge for me, but I pressed forward and was able to put into practice my new research knowledge. The best thing that I could have done this summer in choosing a summer program was participating in a program that was outside of a western, modernized country. That aspect helped enhance my learning experience.
I spent the second half of my summer in Prague, Czech Republic. The objective of the program’s course of study was to research the effects and observe how high tech industry is operated and developed in the Czech Republic. My time there was not just limited to Prague. The group also conducted research throughout the entire country and also in neighboring countries such as Austria and Hungary. The true test of how the program’s research was conducted was not simply limited to the business model of the high tech industry, but also included studying the immigration policy in the country, social construct, government funding, education, and culture. I think the way in which my summer activities related most to global studies was the overall experience of the traveling process ad the way in which I lived within a culture that was completely on the other end of the spectrum for me. Despite these differences, I could still relate on the basis that the world that we live in has become much more accessible through technological advancements and other commonalities that we all share today.
“You are welcome, obruni! You are welcome!” Walking down the dusty path from my lodging alongside the second largest mountain peak in Ghana to the school where I teach the Junior Secondary students, villagers walking to the community farm greet me. I am clearly an outsider, my white skin shining under the blazing sun. But they welcome me nonetheless; extremely grateful for the little work I am doing to help their children learn English, their national language. While the students are far more fluent in their tribal language, Ewe, they love to learn English, the many phrases and cultural aspects of this language and my American lifestyle entertaining them to no end. The relief I felt in this country was totally unexpected. Here, people are not concerned with being invited to some great party or whether or not they can persuade their parents to buy them some designer sunglasses. Instead, they worry about this season’s crop. What I found most surprising in this community- so sparse compared to the first world luxuries which usually surround me- was the total lack of sadness and discontent among the villagers. These people knew only this life, and they found total happiness in its simplicity. This summer, I had the opportunity to take a deep breath, enjoy the natural world around me, talk with people who have never seen the things I call normal, and delve totally and completely into one sector of the global community. While I went there to help, I came back having realized that these people, who we see on the news and pity, don’t need our sympathy. They need honest and pure help, not from some might benevolent American, but instead from an equal, a member of the human race, who gives aid now but might need it later.
IES Abroad Beijing was exactly what I was hoping for in a study abroad experience: a challenging and engaging academic program, plenty of opportunity for full cultural immersion, and more than enough time to explore both Beijing and China in general. My Chinese improved tremendously because of the excellent staff at IES and also because I was placed in a home stay that could not speak English. The home stay was the best feature of my time abroad, and I feel that I was matched perfectly with my host family. I loved the balance that the Contemporary Issues program provided in terms of rigorous Chinese study combined with courses designed to deepen our understanding of modern Chinese government, international relations, literature, environmental issues, and more. My Global Interdisciplinary Studies major has helped me to synthesize my study abroad experience with my academic journey at Villanova University by teaching me to view the world through a dynamic and holistic perspective.
I had a great experience studying abroad in Dakar, Senegal in 2009. I had the opportunity to learn about African politics, gender and development, and Wolof language and was even able to work with a local political party in preparation for their midterm elections. Following my time studying at the University of Dakar and the West African Research Center, I was inspired to spend a summer in the city working with a non-profit organization focused on migration and health care. I learned a great deal about Senegalese culture and international development in action and have continued in my career to focus on public health.
Every morning a few of my friends at my sharehouse (DK House) in Shinkoiwa just outside of Toyko would go for a run together. We'd run through the town, past all of the little mom-and-pop Ramen shops, Hyaku-en (Dollar) stores and arcades. After passing Shinkoiwa park, our run would usually end at the other side of a large bridge that crossed the Arakawa river. The Arakawa river is an amazing place to see Tokyo Skytree, which is the largest building in all of Japan. Whether it was at sunrise or sunset, pausing to stare at the structure from afar while skipping rocks on the river and feeling the cool sea air is definitely something I'll always remember.