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Exploring the Boundaries of Education

Photos provided by Michaela Gregory

Photos provided by Michaela Gregory

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Michaela Gregory, an admissions specialist and graduate programs assistant for the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Lipscomb University, studied abroad in Vienna, Austria, during her sophomore year of college. Gregory stated, “It came to feel like a second home.” Gregory had class Monday through Thursday, and was given three days to travel freely. Due to this, she also got to explore Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Slovenia, Greece, Poland, the Czech Republic, Monaco, and the Vatican City. Michaela claims she chose to study abroad because “it seemed like an adventure.” She was so excited to travel that she enrolled for the program during her freshman year. After all, “how many other opportunities would I have to live and travel in Europe?”

Studying abroad can produce many encounters. “There are really too many experiences to describe,” Michaela shares, “I went cliff jumping in the south of France… I meandered through the Christmas markets while drinking a warm mug of kinderpunsch… I crossed the European continent on a train… I was once served an entire fish – head, fins, bones and all – at a restaurant nestled at the foot of the Alps…” Michaela even describes how she once got the opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Vienna Natural History Museum with the curator of the mammal exhibits. She witnessed preserved specimens of extinct species, including a fully intact baby mammoth that had been discovered in melting permafrost. The mammoth was actually preserved in a special display case to keep it frozen.

There are even occasions where the unexpected can become a great adventure. Michaela was traveling to Bled, Slovenia, when public transportation was shut down due to a local holiday. She walked three miles to her hostel, and discovered a thousand-year-old castle resting atop cliffs overlooking a wondrous lake, where she viewed a spectacular sunrise over the distant alps. Michaela made great friends with her group of twenty-five students. They lived together, traveled together, and attended class together, creating a great experience all round.

Michaela also shares the advantages and disadvantages of traveling abroad. “Arguably, the greatest advantage is the food! Each country’s cuisine was unique, and occasionally, I didn’t even know what exactly I ordered, but it was always interesting!”

Being from Manchester, the large metropolis that it is (not!), I had never used public transportation before I went to Vienna, but it is the primary mode of transportation in European cities.”

— Michaela Gregory

Michaela also says that her chance to study abroad gave her confidence in traveling. “I was so nervous about navigating these huge cities on my own,” she admits, “but the study abroad program was designed to teach us how to travel. Not only did I learn how to take public transportation anywhere I needed to go, but they also taught us how to plan and execute our weekend trips. I learned how to reserve plane and train tickets, book a hostel or hotel, navigate huge foreign cities, overcome language barriers, and, most importantly, to be flexible when things didn’t go exactly according to plan.” Discovering the rich history and diverse cultures is yet another advantage of studying abroad. Michaela saw priceless artwork, ancient Roman ruins, breathtaking architecture, and historic artifacts that many students only read about in their high school textbooks.

 

But there are also disadvantages. Some students traveling with Michaela’s group had to put a lot of extra effort into their studies so they could graduate on time. Sometimes a required class is only offered occasionally and this can pose a problem for students who plan to study abroad.

Michaela would jump at the chance to study abroad again. “There are so many places I would love to see,” she says, “Even in Europe there are so many places I missed.” Michaela wholeheartedly recommends students to study abroad if they are ever given the chance. “I would encourage anyone to not be afraid to travel and seek adventure. At the same time, I would also say to be smart. Use common sense. Be open minded and respectful of others cultures. I’m all for taking plenty of pictures, but make sure you see the places you go with eyes and not just on your screen.”

 

Interested in studying abroad? Listed below are local opportunities to travel beyond the stereotypical education. You can also check your preferred college for any additional opportunities.

AFS-USA

AFS, a worldwide, nonprofit organization, has been leading international high school student exchange for more than 60 years. Each year, AFS-USA sends more than 1,100 US students abroad, provides approximately $3 million in scholarship and financial aid and welcomes 2,500+ international high school students who come to study in US high schools and live with host families. For more information, visit www.afsussa.org or call 1-800-AFS-INFO.

The Tennessee Consortium for International Studies

The Tennessee Consortium for International Studies (TnCIS) represents a group of community colleges and universities devoted to making international education and cultural understanding a central goal of higher education throughout the state of Tennessee. TnCIS sponsors an annual conference on international education and organized summer study abroad opportunities for Motlow students and others throughout the state. For more information about the programs offered, please visit the TnCIS website.

Global Works Travel

Global Works inspires personal transformation by fostering empathetic relationships with our global community. We provide intentional, authentic, service-learning travel programs which reflect a commitment to sustainability and collaboration with local communities. Global Works was founded in 1989 on a vision of creating international travel programs that combine community service and adventure travel as a way to not only learn about the world outside our borders, but to be inspired to improve ourselves. Twenty-nine years later, Global Works has a well-deserved reputation as one of the most professional and well-organized student travel operations. Focusing on authentic travel experiences, sustainable community service, language immersion and homestays, leadership, and adventure, travelers return home with increased confidence, knowledge, and a greater sense of global citizenship. Partnering with communities and non-profit organizations worldwide, Global Works co-develops sustainable projects that positively impact both travelers and their partners.

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Exploring the Boundaries of Education