Dickinson students return from abroad and share their experiences of new independence and world perspectives.
Patrick Davis ’20, an international business and management major, studied in Malaga, Spain and took classes related to Spanish culture and economics. Davis spent most of his time abroad on academics, however he also had time to explore other areas outside of Spain.
“The best experience abroad was being able to travel around Europe and even Africa,” Davis explained, “I got to experience new cultures and meet new people.”
Michael Murphy ’20, a neuroscience major with a health studies certificate, said his experience in Copenhagen, Denmark sparked a new interest in psychopharmacology, which he would have not been interested in if he did not study in Copenhagen. Murphy lived with a host family and immersed himself within their culture. “We shared many interests like running competitively and making food,” Murphy states, “My host father made bread every morning and frequently cooked pizza in an oven he made himself with bricks from Italy.”
Students abroad also participate in programs separate from their studies. Ava Larson ’20, an international studies and economics double major and Italian minor, volunteered for the organization Mondo Donna which helps women, victims of domestic abuse and refugees to adapt to life in Bologna.
“I personally worked with migrant men and women to teach them Italian, as well as took care of their children so they could attend class,” Larson shared. Larson also took a class at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. “This was a great experience because I was able to engage with graduate students from all over the world,” Larson stated. “This allowed me to reach outside of my comfort zone and grow as a student.”
Dickinson students who leave campus to live in a foreign country assume newfound independence. Makeda White ’20, an American studies major, studied in Norwich, England and recognized her independence as she traveled by herself for the first time in a new country. “I leaned into my discomfort when approaching and interacting with people of a new culture,” White stated. “You grow and mature a lot because you have a bit more responsibilities to take care of on your own.” While students are encouraged to explore global education opportunities, White recognizes that studying abroad may not be for everyone. White explained, “People constantly feel pressured to study abroad because that’s what everyone else recommends and are doing, but it’s okay if you can’t be a part of that.”
Students gain new perspectives through other country’s citizens after leaving the United States and living in a new country. Beth Eidam ’20, studied in Rome, Italy through a partner program designed for classical studies and archaeology students. Eidam and other students went on field trips around Italy to explore the different cultural elements. “Students should study abroad to experience another style of learning and life,” Eidam stated “It is important in our society to be flexible and understanding of people different from us.”
Calvin Bader ’20, an archaeology and Italian double major with an earth science minor, says the best piece of advice for students considering abroad is to keep an open mind even if things are challenging. “A lot of stuff will feel ostracized or like, ‘Oh my god I’m the only American’ but you have to adapt and overcome because it’s totally worth it [going abroad],” Bader explained.