Go West, Go World: Student Stories
We've been collecting stories from our students who've studied abroad: they really show what it means to Go West, Go World!
2016 Wolves Abroad Grantees
This was the second year for the Wolves Abroad Grants program, which is designed to help UWG students who'd never been out of the country before have their first international experience. WAG awardees participated in programs in Europe, Central America and Africa. Below are some of their stories.
Tiana Young: Language and Culture in Heredia, Costa Rica
What had you expected before leaving? I thought that we would be by beach.
What was different than you expected? We were more in a big city, than close to the beach. I also expected to be better at communicating, it was much easier to write than speak and I was nervous about making mistakes.
What was the most valuable part – culturally and academically? Culturally, it allowed me to appreciate different people, Costa Rica was very different from my home. Sometimes you are not able to appreciate what you have, and seeing the world from a different perspective can change that. Academically – it was more challenging than I expected. I spend nine hours every day at school, but it was very rewarding.
What is something that you would like future students to know? Keep an open mind – some people didn’t enjoy the experience as much because they weren’t open to new things. Get out of the home setting, and enjoy the city and the people.
Mckinley Shunn: Art in France and England
What had you expected before leaving? I expected to try and see how people lived and emulate their lifestyles in a way. I think I expected to come back knowing where I wanted to go within my art career and at least have an idea of the work I wanted to produce.
What was different than you expected? I didn't expect to be moved so deeply by their culture and by the experience abroad. It was so amazing being able to go over and truly indulge in the way others live. I think we take for granted a lot of things that I never realized until I travelled to Europe. I mean I went somewhere that is one of the most developed nations, just like us, and one of the ones that is closest to how we live and yet they even had things that were so vastly different, that I took for granted before I did. I think I also wasn't expecting for the food to have such a resounding impact on me as well. They take so much more time than we do as Americans for meals, and their meals mean a lot more than ours do. It is a time of fellowship and a time to enjoy the presence of one another where as we use our meals to fuel us and move on.
What was the most valuable part – culturally and academically? Culturally I think the thing that I most valued is how they appreciate every little thing and also how they put their heart and soul into everything that they do. It seems like there is a lot more effort being given. Academically, I remember making several connections to what I have learned here in the States throughout not only my college career but also throughout grade school as well. That was very cool to me because I felt like I was putting things that I had learned into action and felt like I was using the information I have retained.
What is something that you would like future students to know? I would let future students know to fully enjoy themselves if they get the chance to study abroad. I would have moments where I might have been missing home or felt like I was missing something and would begin to get distracted and then I would remind myself that IT WAS A ONCE IN A LIFETIME EXPERIENCE. That would make me snap out of it and really enjoy the fact that I was somewhere I had never been before. Study abroad while you are in college. There is never going to be a better time and if they are worried about money and how to fund the trip, that there as SO many ways to make it happen. Most of all I would want to tell them that it is more than worth it for your life and your academic career. It was unforgettable.
Abigail Smith: Literature and Culture in Spoleto, Italy
What had you expected before leaving? I expected to be homesick, and expected a huge culture shock – a different non-English speaking country.
What was different than you expected? Italian culture was very accepting and accommodating. It was easy falling into the culture, with no period of feeling uncomfortable. Spoleto was very welcoming.
What was the most valuable part – culturally and academically? Culturally, being able to experience a different culture, a different way of life and thinking of things was the most valuable part. Academically, as an English major, we read accounts of people being immersed in Italian culture while going through our own immersion experience at the same time and that was really interesting.
What is something that you would like future students to know? It is so worth it! Step out of your comfort zone, meet new people, don’t be afraid to try new things: food, travel… Throw yourself into it, you’ll learn as you go. Don’t try to ease yourself in.