Standing on the slippery stone, I looked across the ocean. The wind was harsh and cutting. The sky was bright, clear and blue. I could see for miles. From where I was, Scotland was in the distance.
A plethora of rolling hills peaked out of the spray of the sea. The ocean crashed against the strangely shaped rocks. A seagull picked at its feathers. The waves lapped, shaping and eroding the honeycombed shaped rocks. I stood in awe of what was before me: an entire stone kingdom shaped by time, erosion, and lava long gone. This was Ireland.
Over the summer before my freshman year, someone from the International House posted in the Maryville College Class of 2020 Facebook Group that they were still looking for students for a J-Term trip, and that the professors were opening it up to the freshman class. I applied and got in. About five months into my freshman year, I was off to the United Kingdom with upper classmen I barely knew.
Spending three weeks in the United Kingdom and Ireland was an awesome experience. As a group, we traveled to many places around England, Wales and Ireland. I not only got to experience the countryside of Ireland, but I also got to experience what the citizens of the countries were actually like.
While overseas, we spent a fair amount of time in museums and on tours. Something that made our trip unique was our connection with locals. Dr. Lori Schmeid,
professor of psychology and coordinator of neurosciences and Dr. Paul Threadgill, professor of biology led the trip. Because the two have many connections and friends on the ground, the group was able to eat dinner with a variety of local people.
We also were given a tour of Chester by a professor of history from Wrexham Glyndŵr University. Meeting these people gave me some sort of an idea of what University and academia is like in the United Kingdom.
This had to be one of my favorite parts about the trip since I not only got to learn about history, but I also got the chance to speak with a very well educated woman
Studying abroad for three weeks not only taught me about other cultures and the history of those cultures, but it also helped me learn applicable skills for everyday life. I learned what it’s like to travel alone in a foreign country, how to manage money and how to adapt to new situations.
Even though I have traveled abroad before, this was truly the first time I needed to navigate by myself. I learned how to use a real map and to be safe when alone in a big city. Besides the practical knowledge that I gained, I really enjoyed being able to explore the countries.
I was able to explore everything from a historical park to a small town in Wales by myself. I got to interact one-on-one with all sorts of people from all over the world almost everywhere we went.
People were surprisingly friendly. Everywhere I went people were welcoming and wanted to know more about me and what we were studying. If given the chance, I would love to study abroad again!