Category Archives: mu student perspective

WHAT’S NEXT AFTER GRADUATION? – TOKYO, JAPAN

Below is a Q & A between Global Education and Millersville alumnus, Wesley DeMarco

Wesley studied abroad at Kansai Gaidai University, in Hirakata, Japan in his senior year. He graduated with a degree in Computer Science.

What were your goals for studying abroad at the time?

I wanted to immerse myself in the language and culture and improve my language skills.

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What is one thing that happened during your study abroad experience that really impacted you?

I think the whole experience was life changing. There was one time that I got terribly lost trying to get to my host family’s place during the first month. (I have an awful sense of direction). I had taken the train from Hirakata station but had no idea how to get home from the station. I called my host family and they told me to get on the next bus. Unfortunately I got off the bus early because I wasn’t paying attention and heard the name of my stop (they were just listing the places they were going to stop) and couldn’t get my bearings so I asked a girl coming out of a Daiso (a local convenience/grocery store in Japan) and I asked her how to get to Kadoma Danchi. She said pointed saying “I think it’s that way, but it’s really far. I don’t think you can walk there.” She told me to come with her, her house was really close and she got her Dad. He said that yes it was pretty far to walk. He then offered to drive me. In my state of mind I was extremely relieved and grateful, in hindsight it probably wasn’t the greatest idea to get in a car with strangers in a foreign country but Japan is very safe and they were extremely nice people. In the car, I got the usual questions like “where are you from”, “what are you doing in Japan”, “What school do you go to”, and “Your Japanese is so good”. Before long I saw out the window a bus stop that I knew was right near my host family’s place and I knew how to get home from there. I told them I knew the way from the bus stop and thanked them profusely before getting out of the car and heading home. I really wish I could meet them again, but that was an experience that really showed me how wonderfully friendly and hospitable Japanese people can be when someone is in need.

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Can you share something you did during your first experience?

I did the usually site-seeing around Kyoto and hanging out with new friends. I also spent a lot of time with my best friend who I knew before coming. He lives in Kyoto so I would take the train to visit him and experience Kyoto not from the tourist perspective but that of someone who lives there. One of my favorite experiences there was in April. I had been wanting to go to the Sakura festival in Kyoto but was having trouble finding the right time. There’s a small window when the trees are in full bloom and you have to fit that with your schedule and with the friends you want to go with. It also rained making the window smaller and I only really had a week. I ended up going on a Friday night, at my very last chance before the flowers would pretty much be gone. I went with my best friend and another friend who had studied at Millersville about a year earlier. We went to the 夜桜 (Yozakura), night viewing of the cherry blossoms at Maruyama Park in Gion Shijo. It was beautiful, all the trees were illuminated from below, there were tents set up on the side of the walkway selling food and we walked around the enormous park, watched the trees, ate dinner, and talked. Then, we left to walk around Gion a bit and we walked into a beautiful cobblestone alley lit by ceremonial lanterns. It was identical to the picturesque image I had always had of ancient Japan. Suddenly there was a gust of wind and the air was filled with the cherry blossom petals that had been weekend by the rain. Words just cannot do it justice.

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What are you doing now?

I am working as a Software Developer in Tokyo, Japan. I’m building middleware and tools for videogame development.

How did your study abroad experience at Millersville lead you to where you are now?

I don’t think I would be nearly as confident with my language skills and also, even though it’s a different part of Japan I feel like I know my way around much better than I would have otherwise. I know the train systems and understand the culture and customs which really helps to not have to get used to the lifestyle while I’m trying to get used to a new job. I don’t think I’d have had the courage to move here if I hadn’t already lived here during my study abroad.

Now that you are back in Japan, is there something or someplace you would like to visit again?

Absolutely, it’s a little expensive of a trip but I will most definitely be visiting Osaka/Kyoto as soon as I get the chance and I may try to go to Kyoto every year for the Sakura festival.

How is being abroad different this second time around?

I don’t have the school to help me so there’s a bit more responsibility, but I have some wonderful friends here who have helped me through some of the more difficult procedures. Also, Japanese companies take extremely good care of their employees so I’ve had quite a bit of help there as well.

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How does this new area of Japan compare with where you lived while studying abroad?

I studied abroad in a region called 関西(Kansai) or Western Relation. I am currently living in a town called 下北沢 (Shimokitazawa) in Tokyo in the 関東 (Kanto) region. There are some significant cultural differences. For example the people are a bit warmer in Kansai. But in the end, it’s the same Japan, the people are still friendly, and the dialect is easier here. The broadcast dialect is spoken a lot around Tokyo.

What advice would you give to other thinking about doing experiences abroad after graduation?

First, go for it! It’s going to be scary. That’s unavoidable. But if you can, try to study abroad first while you’re still in school. Having a school to help you through your first time makes it a lot easier and helps alleviate a lot of the fear. Try to build a strong network and support group and make friends while you’re there too. Just having people in the country to cheer you on and be there for you if you need to talk etc., can be a huge help. Finally try to get as good as you can in the local language. Dealing with all the various procedures of such a big move can be confusing enough without having to deal with it in a language you’re not very good at.

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What’s Next After Graduation? – Belfast, Northern Ireland

Below is a Q & A between Global Education and Millersville alumnus , Sarah Tyler.

Sarah studied abroad the summer prior to her sophomore year. She graduated with a degree in Communications with an option in public relations and two minors in history and government.

Where did you study abroad when you were a Millersville Student? 

I spent a month in Northern Ireland at Queens University of Belfast as a student of the International Summer School, hosted by Queens University.  The summer school focused on lectures regarding Irish studies and field trips that highlighted the local culture and sights of Belfast and Northern Ireland.   

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What were your goals for sudying abroad at the time? 

I did not know what to expect during a study abroad program, hence why I chose a shorter-term study abroad instead of a full semester or year.  I remember being excited to have the opportunity to meet with people from around the world and have the experience of living in another country while adjusting to their cultural norms of everyday life. 

What is one thing during your study abroad that really impacted you? 

I was greatly impacted by the amount of personal growth experienced within the month of being abroad.  There were many things that I had to do by myself for the first time.  Although they were small tasks, such as navigating my way from the airport to living accommodations, it is more of the idea that I was completely dependent on myself to find my way in a new city.  As this was the first time for me  to experience such independence, I was able to grow as a more mature and cultured individual. 

Can you share something you did on your first experience? 

As Dublin is only a two-hour bus ride, some friends that I made in the school and I went to Dublin for the weekend.  We explored the surrounding area, attended popular tourist attractions and created numerous memories.   

What are you doing now? 

After much consideration as what I wanted to do after graduation, I decided to return to Belfast to obtain a master’s degree in international relations from Queens University.  Nearing the end of my junior year of college, I decided that although I love practicing public relations, I want to move my career path into the government field.  Remembering my positive experience at Queens, it was an easy decision to want to return and complete a master’s degree at their institution. 

How did your study abroad experience lead you to where you are now? 

If it were not for my study abroad experience, I would not have known of the endless possibilities that are available outside the United States.  During my study abroad time, I interacted with people from all over the world and gained a stronger understanding of their culture, which I never had the opportunity to do so within the United States.   

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How is being abroad different this second time around? 

This second time in Belfast is completely different then the first.  As I am living here for a year, I had to complete paperwork to have access to health care, a residence permit, new phone plan and bank account.  As I have more time than previously before, I am currently looking for a part-time job or an internship.  Knowing that I will be here for a year has allowed me to become established within the Belfast society and the school community and develop longevity with friends and classmates.  

Now that I am back, is there something that I would like to do? 

There are so many things on my to-do list and fortunately, I have a year to work on it.  There are so many things to do in Belfast alone, whether it is the Game of Thrones tour or hiking cave hill.  I really want to take advantage of all of the opportunities and complete as many as possible.  As Northern Ireland is close to Europe, I would like to take long-weekend trips to different countries.  My top countries to visit are the Czech Republic, Hungry and Greece.

What advice would you give to other thinking about doing experiences abroad after graduation? 

Doing an abroad experience after graduation is such a great opportunity, especially after already completing an undergraduate degree.  I believe the reason I have been able to easily adjust to life in a new country and appreciate the culture and learning opportunities is because of a higher maturity level compared to the first time I studied abroad.  Although I have returned to the same area, there is a huge difference in how I look at things around me and how I can appreciate them on such a different level then I could before.  I do not believe I would be as successful had I not had numerous experiences at an undergraduate level.   

 

MU Student Perspective – Semester in Germany

Student Spotlight: A Semester in Germany

Any major can study abroad! Meet Maire, a senior at Millersville studying Early Childhood/Special Education and German. Read her responses below about her experience thus far and how her time abroad gave her the opportunity to leave her comfort zone and try new things!

Get to Know Marie

Name: Marie Grutza
Year: Senior
Major and/or Minor: Early Childhood/Special Education dual major with a minor in German
Host University/Program: International Undergraduate Study Program at Philipps-Universitatät Marburg
Host Country: Germany
Time period abroad: Spring 2017

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Why did you choose to study abroad in Germany?

I studied German in high school and traveled to Ulm, Germany for three weeks through the German American Partnership Program. I fell in love with the country and the culture so it was a no-brainer for me to go back.

What is your favorite part about studying abroad so far? What is your least favorite?

This is tough…there are so many things I loved about studying abroad. One thing I really enjoyed was trying new things that were outside my comfortable zone. For example, I took all kinds of public transportation by myself when I have never taken public transportation before in my life, I tried new food, even when it looked and sounded disgusting, like goose liver and I made friends with strangers while sitting next to them on a plane. And I don’t think I have a least favorite part of studying abroad….there was always something positive in every negative situation I came across.

Describe something you did for the first time or a specific memory that you have about your time abroad.

One of my favorite memories was my traveling experience to Italy. My friends and I allotted extra time for travel to get to the airport, but we didn’t allot a full 2 hours when our bus was late. We looked into other options to get to the airport as fast as we could, but took a chance on the bus that we already paid for. It was a race against the clock when the bus pulled into the airport just 10 minutes before take-off. We sprinted through the airport like a scene in the movie, unsure if they would let us board the plane or not. As we turn the corner, we realize there is no plane in our terminal. We started to panic before realizing our plane had been delayed and hadn’t made it to the terminal yet. It was a miracle! After an hour of waiting in the airport, we boarded the plane to wait another hour before take-off because of the storms. When we arrived in Italy, (it was about midnight and we had been traveling since 7am) we took a taxi to our Airbnb…..except the taxi didn’t take us to our Airbnb, it dropped us off a few blocks away. It was about 1am and we had no internet or cell service to contact our host. We walked around, dragging our luggage, doing our best to read Italian street signs with no luck. We eventually came across someone who spoke English and we pointed us in the right direction. WHAT A DAY!

Did you get the chance to travel outside of your host country?

Yes!!! I traveled almost every weekend during my semester and stayed for about a month after the semester ended to travel. I traveled to Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Strasbourg, France; Zurich, Switzerland; Rome, Italy; Vatican City; Zadar, Croatia; Prague, Czeck Republic; Budapest, Hungary and Warsaw/Krakow, Poland

What did you miss most about the U.S.?

My family! I skyped with them as much as I could.

Why should other MU students study abroad?

I strongly encourage every student to study abroad, regardless of your major, because it will change your life! You will be pushed outside your comfort zone in the best way possible and do things you never imagined doing. I look back on my time abroad and wish I could relieve my experience every day…I never felt more alive!

 What was your favorite thing about studying in Marburg?

Marburg is bigger than a town, but smaller than a city, and that was the perfect size for me! I lived in a small village about 15 minutes outside of town in the country side where I took a lot of hikes in the forest behind my dorm and enjoyed the peace and quiet. And just a bus ride away, I had my pick of restaurants & bars in the Altstadt and plenty of places to go shopping. Additionally, we could hop on a train and be in Frankfurt in just under an hour. Marburg is in the perfect location!

How did studying in Germany improve your language skills?

My language skills improved drastically because I practiced them every day. I was fully immersed in the language so hearing and speaking the language sharpened my language skills in no time.

MU Student Perspective – Semester in Australia

Student Spotlight: A Semester in Australia

The Office of Global Education supports many students while they study abroad, but taking classes abroad is not all that MU students do. Our university partners and other program providers around the world give students the chance for a once in a lifetime international experience.

Meet Matthew, a senior Millersville University student studying Business Administration. This past spring 2016 semester he boarded a plane to Australia to explore a part of the world he’s always dreamed of visiting. Read his responses below about his experience thus far and how his time abroad is allowing him to try new things! 

Get to Know Matthew

Name: Matthew Junkin
Year
: Senior

Major and/or Minor: Business Administration
Host University/Program: University of the Sunshine Coast
Host Country: Australia
Time period abroad: Spring 2016

Why did you choose to study abroad in Australia?

Australia has always been a place that I have wanted to go to. I think the history of it is fascinating and the climate is essentially perfect.  I considered studying somewhere in Europe, but I figured that I would not be able to get to Australia again any time soon. I figured if I wanted to experience it, now would be the perfect time to do it.

What is your favorite part about studying abroad so far? What is your least favorite?

My favorite thing would be seeing a different culture and having an experience that most people don’t get to have.  The nice weather is also a fantastic bonus.  My least favorite thing is just missing my friends and family at home.  I wish that they would experience this with me and see all the fantastic things that I am seeing.

Describe something you did for the first time or a specific memory that you have about your time abroad.

I tried surfing for the first time ever.  I did a lot better than I thought I would and had a blast doing it.  I figured it was something that I absolutely had to try while being in Australia, especially because I am from central PA and don’t have any nice waves to surf near me.

Did you get the chance to travel outside of your host country?

Yes! I went to New Zealand for 10 days over Easter break. The three of us from Millersville rented a camper van and drove around the northern island and saw some of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.  New Zealand is definitely on my list of places that someone should see at some point in their life. Arguably the most beautiful place I have ever been.

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What do you miss most about the U.S.? Are you looking forward to anything in particular when you come home?

There are a few things I miss about the United States.  First off, Aussie TV is no good.  They have the same program running on 4 different channels at a time and you only get about 80 channels.  I have been living off of Food Network and HGTV because those are the only American networks here.  Secondly, I am so excited for American prices.  Going out to eat is unbelievably expensive.  Lastly, I am just excited to be home with friends and family and my dog Keno. Just relaxing over summer will be really nice with all of them.

What is something you’ve seen abroad that you would never see happening at Millersville?

People go everywhere here with no shoes.  Whether it be class, the grocery store, the mall, etc. shoes seem to always be optional.  Personally, I hate not wearing shoes so I am not one of those people.

How has your perspective of Business changed after taking classes abroad? Were there any classes that you really enjoyed or helped you think about your field of study in a different way?

The class structure is different here so it is a different way of learning, but I would say that my perspective has remained about the same.  My favorite course would probably be an International Marketing class.  Just interesting to learn about what all has to be considered when marketing in other cultures.

Why should other MU students study abroad?

Its an experience of a lifetime and one you may never get again.  It took some convincing (mostly me convincing myself) to do it and I am so happy that I did.  It gives you a different perspective on the world and it is always interesting to compare things to back home.  Things like prices, weather, slang, etc. are all different and there have been many things here that have caught me off guard.  It also allows you to really appreciate many of the things you take for granted at home.  I have also always said that the world is a giant beautiful place, and you should do everything in your power to see as much of it as you can before you die.  This experience has really solidified that idea for me and has given me the desire to see so much more than I already have.  If someone is thinking of studying abroad, just do it. You won’t regret it in the slightest.

An MU Student Perspective – A Semester in Paris, France

Student Spotlight: A Semester in Paris, France

The Office of Global Education supports many students while they study abroad, but taking classes abroad is not all that MU students do. Our university partners and other program providers around the world give students the chance for a once in a lifetime international experience.

Meet Caitlyn, a senior at Millersville University studying International Studies with a minor in French. This past Fall 2015 semester she boarded a plane to Paris, France to study for a year at MU’s partner program the American Business School of Paris to fulfill one of her life-long dreams of becoming fluent in French. Read her responses below about her experience thus far and how her time abroad is evolving her perspective of the world.

Get to Know Caitlyn

Name: Caitlyn Bordon
Year
: Senior
Major and/or Minor: International Studies and French
Host University/Program: American Business School
Host City, Country: Paris, France
Time period abroad: 2015-2016 Academic Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why did you choose to study abroad in France?

I started learning French when I was twelve years old and fell in love with the beautiful language; I promised my dad that one day I would be fluent. What better way to become proficient than to go to the country and immerse yourself in the culture and way of life?

What is your favorite part about studying abroad so far? What is your least favorite?

I adore living with my host family. We have excellent culture clashes all the time when they think something I am doing is absurd, and vice versa. I learn so much about subtle cultural norms, my French has improved immensely, and I have had the pleasure of trying home cooked French cuisine. They have made this first semester such a rich experience, even if they do find my adoration for peanut butter absolutely repulsive.

The French culture is in and of itself a rich and vibrant thing. Unfortunately, it is very hard to break into. I have found it difficult to befriend French people, it is a culture that values the amount of time you have known a person over the shared experiences or conversations had in a shorter period. This has meant that my lack of permanence here has hindered friendship-making. But I persist in trying to connect with people!

Describe something you did for the first time or a specific memory that you have about your time abroad.

I have never before been to a professional soccer (football!) match. I was able to do that for the first time on November 13th when I saw Germany and France play. Germany is my team so it really was a dream come true to see them, even if they did play horribly and lost to France. There is nothing quite like the atmosphere of one of these games, I loved it! French people are generally not very patriotic, but whatever sense of nationalism lies below the surface here came exploding out in this sports event which was a joy to witness.

Did you get the chance to travel outside of your host country?

The only time I left France was for a long weekend in Scotland. It was excellent. I loved everything about Scotland, a gorgeous country with delightful people and history. The University town of St. Andrews is like something out of a movie! This winter I will be heading back to the UK, to Wales and Ireland. I have high expectations.

What do you miss most about the U.S.? Are you looking forward to anything in particular when you come home?

The thing I miss the most is people. I love my friends back home in the States and being away from family is never too fun for me. So I am glad I get to go home and see them all, and I cannot wait to be back for summer in Lancaster city.

Everyone loves food. Did you have any interesting dishes while abroad? Did you love or hate them?

My host mom is an excellent chef; she makes wonderful food from all over the francophone world, from Reunion Island to the South of France. One unfortunate meal, however, was a major hit with my host brother, and an absolute trial to swallow for me. Pinkish, warmish, pureed fish spread on bread, it’s tough to ruin French bread but this certainly did!

What is something you’ve seen abroad that you would never see happening at Millersville?

The school hosts major parties! The University itself is instrumental in the organizing, supporting and creation of major events. In fact, just a few weeks before the horrific terror attacks on Paris, my school rented out the entire Bataclan Theatre for a huge integration party. It was a bit surprising to me at first that the school would host such events, but as I have come to understand youth culture more here, it makes all the more sense to me, and actually is quite a cool opportunity to meet my peers in a very different environment.

What is your favorite part about being in such an international and culturally diverse city like Paris? Has this helped refine your worldview at all?

Cultural diversity to me is like warm weather and a sea breeze, I always want to be around it; soothing and exciting at the same time. In one conversation there can be three language shifts, two miscommunication and a host of questions raised as we discover each other’s traditions and mannerisms. I love this. Paris is a big city made up of a patchwork of littler neighborhoods, each with a distinct culture. These come together under the banner of Paris and French, and the product is this exciting, globalized atmosphere. My favorite time to observe this is on the Metro: a vigilant eavesdropper can spot an array of languages, styles, etiquettes, etc. It is magnificent. It only makes me want to travel more.

Due to the recent events in Paris, how have you been impacted, has your view of the U.S. or France changed?

The horrific war in Syria and across the Middle East has seemed so far from us all this time but it really is not far at all, it is at our doorstep. This realization has changed the way I think. I need my life to impact people for the better; I need to get involved, to stay informed, and to be present. I think this lit a fire under me and inspired what I would like to dedicate my life to doing.

The recent events in Paris were certainly eye opening, and very discomforting. We don’t like to be reminded that we’re mortal, but it is important that we know we are. At the time, I did not realize how close I was to mortal danger but in the days since I have had plenty of time to think about all the ways that night could have ended differently, gone totally wrong for me. In the same stride, however, I have resolved to not be shaken. As someone who believes in Jesus and the freedom he provides from slavery to the fear of death, I refuse to allow acts of terror to hinder my life; I need not be enslaved to this fear that I may die. People have had to carry on as life resumed all around Paris and this is as it should be. Even as I write this, I am sitting in a café across the street from two of the attack locations, cafés now covered with flowers, candles, and memorial images and words. Pedestrians stop to take a photo and be silent for a moment, but then they keep walking to their destinations. They keep going, we keep going.

How has your perspective of International Studies changed after taking classes abroad? Were there any classes that you really enjoyed or helped you think about your field of study in a different way?

My classes have been quite euro-centric, a good change of pace from the US-perspective that we get so used to back home. My favorite class has been one on the art movement of Impressionism in France in the late nineteenth century. The movement is full of such important works and is responsible for a lot of the changes we see in the art world. Getting familiar with these works in the vary place they were created has been exciting for me. My international economics class has also been extremely fascinating in giving me an understanding basis for a lot of the institutions and economic dilemmas across the world today.

Why should other MU students study abroad?

There really is nothing else quite like it. It is an opportunity to be in a student environment, which is already unique, surrounded by customs and ways of life that are unusual and rich. If you are open to being uncomfortable for a few months the payoff is huge. Yes, I miss my family and friends. Yes, sometimes I just want to leave. At the same time, every day is something new. Every person I encounter is someone I never would have if I had not decided to come here, every friend I make, food I taste, place I go, the list goes on and on. Travelling opens the world up, my options for what I can do seem to broaden with every new place to which I go, even if that place is just a new neighborhood in this magnificent city.

 

An MU Student Perspective – Nicole Schaffer

The Office of Global Education & Partnerships offers educational and professional opportunities abroad for many Millersville students each semester. Our university partners and other program providers around the world give students the chance for a once in a lifetime international experience. For some students like Nicole Schaffer, this experience may even come around twice! We had the opportunity to interview Nicole while studying abroad at our partner University in Glasgow, Scotland. Check out her responses below about her experience thus far and how her time abroad is preparing her for graduation in the spring.

Name: Nicole Schaffer
Age: 21
Major and/or Minor: English B.A. with a minor in journalism
Host University/Program: University of Strathclyde
Host City, Country: Glasgow, Scotland
Time period abroad: Spring 2015

Why did you choose to study abroad in Scotland?

I chose to study abroad in Scotland because I have always been fascinated by its beauty—especially finding myself drawn to the unnatural green hills and ethereal wonder of the highlands. I wanted to explore a place which has been romanticized in literature since the 18th century; a land where highland cows roam, castle ruins overlook lochs, and it isn’t uncommon to see a kilt or hear the reverberating sound of bagpipes filling the streets. Studying at Strathclyde University in Glasgow allows me to get a feel for the city, just minutes away from the center, and gives me a chance to interact with the locals and experience the Glaswegian culture.

Describe something you did for the first time while studying abroad or a specific memory that you have about your time in Scotland.

A new experience I had while in Scotland was attending a traditional Scottish dance, called a Ceilidh. These dances feature live music and anyone who doesn’t know a dance will learn because they announce the steps at the start of each one. Group dances are the most fun because they can be chaotic as everyone tries to remember the correct movements and directions, then thirty seconds later you switch groups again! For one of these dances I was partnered with a guy from Northern Ireland who was also attending Strathclyde. He must have thought I was either a complete idiot or a terrible dancer, because at this one point in the dance everyone looks at the couple at the front, and during this moment, my shoe happened to half-fall off my foot and I ended up spinning in the wrong direction. Of course no one noticed my foot half out of my shoe, they just saw my horrified expression as I tried to recover from the embarrassment of ruining the dance.

One of the best memories I have so far sounds so ordinary, but it was rolling down a huge hill. It was the greenest hill I have ever beheld, and its incline was perfectly suited for such a venture. At the time I was on a group tour and one of the stops along the way was a beach, which is where this hill happened to be found. Anyone who sees this hill has the same idea, because it is that perfect. I happened to roll down at the same time as two of my other friends, which wasn’t a smart idea because two of us actually ended up colliding, but it was a dizzying/fantastic feeling and something I had never done before.

What is something you’ve seen abroad that you would never see happening at Millersville?

Men walking around in kilts!

Have you experienced culture shock? Explain how.

I wouldn’t say I have experienced culture shock, but there are definitely some notable differences. For example, everyone here—even students on Monday mornings—dress up. Every day wear here does not consist of yoga pants and sweats like you see across American universities. It’s actually really nice to see this higher standard of dressing because everyone is so fashionable. The university’s atmosphere is also quite laid back compared to universities at home. Latecomers are welcome because class usually doesn’t begin until at least five after the given time, and the passing grade here is only 40%. So far this has been a refreshing break compared to the stress I usually feel juggling classes each semester.

We understand you participated on the MU Course Abroad to Iceland last summer. How does Iceland compare to Scotland?

In my mind, nothing can ever compare to Iceland’s vast wilderness, but Scotland comes pretty close. While Scotland is obviously more populous with larger cities, Iceland’s main city, Reykjavik is much smaller, but strangely enough, these two cities have something in common: they both celebrate self-expression. You will find many cool art murals and hear musicians playing in the street around both Glasgow and Reykjavik. Aesthetically, they are both beautiful, but Iceland will always win in this regard due to its many waterfalls, glaciers and geothermal hot spots.

How do you think your experience abroad will help you after graduation?

I think I have developed many skills that will serve me well in the real world—specifically the ability to adapt and think in various perspectives, have ultimately helped me to gain a better understanding of who I am. Befriending so many unique individuals and experiencing so many diverse places instills an excitement in you to live differently.

An MU Student Perspective – Kelsey Sevenski

The Office of Global Education supports many students while they study abroad, but taking classes abroad is not all that MU students do. The Office of Global Education also assists students interning abroad, student teaching abroad, or students like Kelsey, who are completing their social work senior year field placement in Cape Town, South Africa. Through MU’s partner program, VAC, Kelsey flew half way around the globe and spent her spring semester participating in this amazing program. Check out Kelsey’s responses to a few questions about her time in South Africa and see how life changing a professional experience abroad can be!

Kelsey Sevenski

 

Name: Kelsey Sevenski

Age: 21

Host University abroad: Volunteer Adventure Corps (VAC), Cape Town, South Africa

Major/Minor: Social Work; Psychology

When did you study abroad? January 15th to April 15th (Spring 2014)

 

 

 

 

What about study abroad drew you to apply?

1) Meeting new people – I knew this was an opportunity where I would meet people from all over the world and develop relationships I never had before. Before departing, I was really yearning for this particular aspect of life, and fortunately I fulfilled this hope of mine. I not only made friends, I made new and long lasting friendships.

2) Experiencing new culture and language – I never really spent adequate amount of  time outside of the states, so interning abroad allowed me to experience many different cultures and languages.

3) Being away from home – After being at home for 21 years, I was ready to get away and just do something different.

4) Experiences like no other – The specific program description opened my eyes up to all these fun activities (surfing, bungee jumping, shark cage diving) and I just knew I had to try them all.

Why did you decide to study abroad in South Africa?

Africa as a whole intrigued me due to its vast size and varied countries, cultures, and social practices. In particular, South Africa has so many social policy issues including Apartheid and HIV/AIDS. In addition, people here live in astonishing conditions compared to many of the impoverished people of the states. I was really curious to find out what these townships were like and see how the government and it’s many flaws influences South African society as a whole, like the stigma of illness, treatment of women and children, and many religious beliefs. Lastly, I felt that it was important that the main language of South Africa was English, but also that it had many different languages to explore.

 

 

What are some things you did for the first time while abroad?

Bungee jumped off the highest bungee jump in the world; rode many forms of public transportation specific to South Africa (mini bus/taxis); saw and interacted with all different types of wildlife like elephants, baby tigers, great white sharks, penguins, and ostriches; stayed at many different backpackers/hostels and met a lot of different people traveling from all over the world; participated and watched African dancing; explored several different wineries and tasted many different wines; hiked beautiful trails up massive mountains.

What totally freaked you out prior to arriving in South Africa, but turned out to be no big deal?

The main thing that freaked me out was worrying about meeting people and making new friends. However, I got really lucky and was housed with 7 other girls, mostly Americans. Since we were experiencing the impact of interning abroad all at the same time, we all bonded instantaneously. Plus, after being here for a few weeks, I realized how small the world really is, and you start to meet people who know mutual friends or have traveled to places that you have. This connection is like no other.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome and how did you overcome it?

1)      Cultural barriers and language – Of course I expected some cultural differences when interning abroad; however, I didn’t expect some of them to impact me the way they did. The #1 thing that got me was “Africa time.” This simply means that most people in South Africa are very laidback when it comes to being on time. I had a difficult time adjusting, but eventually I even started running on “Africa time.”

2)       Even though a majority of South Africans speak English, it was still very hard to understand some individuals and how they communicate with one another (especially the Xhosa speaking groups). To overcome this, I stayed patient, and overtime I got used to the dialects and accents. But also, I observed and asked questions. South Africans are more than willing to teach you some words or phrases. This is their way of celebrating their language and culture.

3)      Homesickness – I definitely knew I would experience some sort of homesickness, but being there and taking care of myself for 3 months was totally new. However, I overcame it with keeping myself busy, communicating on a regular basis with friends and family back home, and creating meaningful friendships here. It was hard to cope at first, but after a while, you learn to make the best of your situation and end up a better person because of it. Now that I survived these past 3 months on my own, I feel that I can do anything!

Describe a specific memory of your time abroad. Why do you remember that particular moment and what was meaningful about it?

When I first arrived and my driver drove me back to my accommodation and I was just taking it all in. I never saw a landscape so beautiful. I kept thinking… “This is not something you see back home.” The view of Devil’s Peak, Table Mountain, and Lion’s Head was truly breathtaking. Plus, this was my first image of South Africa, and it was an amazing one.

 

What is something you saw abroad that you would never see happening at Millersville?

You may see an Amish horse and buggy riding through Millersville; but here in many of the townships, people makeshift their own horse and buggies. I saw so many horses tied up to some sort of trailer, with a homemade seat for the rider, usually made out of a mattress or old couch. Surprisingly, this form of transportation is common and the police do not regulate these homemade vehicles. In addition to their forms of transportation, there are no standards in driving here. People often run red lights, speed through pedestrian filled streets, and beep at every little thing. It’s a very chaotic system.

What are you going to miss the most about your host country?

The happiness in people, the simplicity (Africa Time), the warmth and sunshine, the landscapes, and how cheap everything is!

How is your experience going to help you personally, professionally, and academically?

PERSONALLY – I’ve become so much more independent, self-aware, confident, etc.

PROFESSIONALLY – Africa time, rate of productivity, work ethic, work skills and values, etc.

ACADEMICALLY – Self-motivation, time management (balancing fun time with work time), increase in global education and other fields that I never knew about before.

Do you think it is important that MU students should study abroad?

Absolutely, after participating in this internship abroad program, I have realized how much traveling and experiencing new cultures and meeting new people forever changes you. You get to meet people from all over and learn about their countries and way of life. This allows you to learn about your own nationality, your values and beliefs, and the culture of your country of origin. Ultimately, it opens up your eyes entirely. Going abroad gives you an experience that you cannot get elsewhere.

The Office of Global Education wishes Kelsey the best of luck in her future as she graduates from Millersville University. If you would like to find out more about Kelsey and the VAC program in South Africa, check out this link below! 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQeWdmOSmJk

 

An MU Student Perspective – Off to Spain!

Many  Millersville students embark on a once-in-a-lifetime study abroad experience, either through Millersville’s partner institutions or through a Non-MU program provider, supported by The Office of Global Education. There are many things for them to consider as they prepare to go abroad, and we had a chance to speak with Janelle Haupt — a Millersville International Studies major and Spanish minor — who flew around the world to Spain through a Non-MU program. We picked her brain before she left on what she expects from the trip  and also got the chance to speak with her after she arrived in Spain to get her thoughts about her experience.

Name: Janelle Haupt
Age: 20
Major:
International Studies, Spanish minor
Study abroad host university:
University of Salamanca through Academic Programs International (Non-MU program)
Study abroad host city:
Salamanca, Spain
Year of study abroad:
Senior

What about study abroad drew you to apply?

The biggest reason I want to study abroad is to improve my fluency in Spanish. I also have never left the United States, but have always wanted to travel, so studying abroad is the perfect opportunity for me to get travel experience while broadening my resume.

What do you foresee as the biggest challenge while abroad, and how do you plan to overcome it?

The biggest challenge I foresee while abroad is culture shock. I plan to overcome it by embracing it and reminding myself that I will be a better person for having lived in another culture.

What are you most excited about?

I am most excited about being in a foreign country and being able to see the different landscapes, architecture, etc. that you find in Europe. I am also very excited to visit Paris and participate in several other excursions throughout Spain to experience the different provinces and cultures within Spain.

Barcelona, Spain

What courses will you be taking and why do you plan to take them?

One of the courses I will be taking is “The Arab World In Hispanic Culture”. I want to take this course because it offers a different perspective than you can get at MU and I also find culture studies to be very interesting. Another course I will be taking is “Spanish for Business”. This class appeals to me because I think it will be useful to me in the job market and it offers a different aspect of the language. The final course I will be taking is a mandatory Spanish grammar class. This class will help me adjust to the language when I arrive, while helping me to expand my vocabulary and continue practicing the grammar I have already learned in classes at MU.

What do you hope to achieve personally, professionally, academically while studying abroad?

I hope to gain confidence in my ability to speak Spanish, learn another culture, and get a new academic perspective. I also want to become more outgoing through my experiences while abroad.

Now That You’re There…

How are you adjusting to your life in Spain? What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

I am adjusting well to my life in Spain. The biggest challenge for me, other than speaking only in Spanish of course, was adjusting to Spanish meal times. Spaniards eat breakfast around 8am or 9am, then have lunch around 2pm, and then do not eat dinner until at least 9pm or later.

Tangier, Morocco

What is something you’ve done for the first time while abroad?

I rode a camel in Morocco! I have also eaten grapes right off the vine at a winery, climbed to the top of a cathedral, ate premade toast from a bag, and picked figs from a fig tree.

How are your classes going? Do you feel that these classes will be helpful to you for your future goals?

I love my classes.  I definitely think these classes will be helpful to me because they cover a lot of important vocabulary, but also offer a lot of insight into Spanish culture.

What are you going to miss the most from Spain once you are back in the US?

Taking a siesta! Also, I will miss the “Menu del dia” in restaurants. The menu usually includes two main courses, dessert, bread, and a drink for a fixed price that can sometimes be as low as 8 or 9 euros.

Paris, France

Besides your host city, what other countries or places have you traveled to since you’ve been abroad?

I have been to Paris (France); Tangier, Chefchouhen, and Assilah (Morocco); and Santiago de Compostela, La Coruna, Barcelona, Madrid, and Toledo (Spain). I also visited my host mother’s house in Tamames, a small town about an hour outside of Salamanca.

Why should MU students study abroad?

It is such a great way to meet new people and make new friends from all over the world. You will look at the world differently after studying abroad and you will really grow as a person. Also, it’s just fun to have new experiences in a place you’ve never been before! I highly recommend that every student take the opportunity to study abroad.

How is your experience going to help you personally, professionally, and academically?

Personally, this experience has definitely given me more confidence in my abilities than anything else. Coming to Spain with a decent background in Spanish, I still was not sure how I would fare, but I have been able to communicate more or less and have learned so much already. I realized that I knew a lot more than I thought I knew.

 Academically, my time here has really helped me to reinforce and expand upon things that I have learned in high school and at MU. I have learned so many things in my Spanish classes, but it is a completely different experience to have to speak it every day. You don’t really realize how much you know and how much you have yet to learn until you are forced to use it all the time.

Studying abroad will be a huge asset to me professionally because as the world is more interconnected it really lends credibility to your resume to have had a study abroad experience. Also, studying in Spain has really helped me become more fluent in Spanish, which will be a huge help when applying for jobs, and since I want to go into an international business, most jobs I would apply for are looking for bilingualism. 

 

Toledo, Spain