MC students spend their spring abroad

Maryville College student Carson Clark on a trip to the Sahara Desert during her time abroad. Photo courtesy of Carson Clark.

The Department of International Education at Maryville College works to instill in students the drive and curiosity to travel abroad for much of the summer semester and yearlong educational experiences offered to the Maryville College population. Increasingly, students here at Maryville are venturing out of their comfort zones in search of new settings, learning environments, and traveling adventures.

This spring semester, the list of students who ventured abroad included Carson Clark, Allison Spurlock, Lishika Lange, and Zaya Amarjargal. Each student has accumulated innumerable memories, lifelong lessons, and hands-on experience to gain a new perspective and grow educationally, socially, and personally.

Carson Clark, a junior who double majors in Political Science and Gender and Women’s Studies, spent the semester at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco. The inspiration behind her trip abroad came from the topic of her senior thesis, which explores the differences between America and Morocco in terms of sexual education, women’s empowerment movements, and gender inequality.

Clark’s experience is a great example of the many requirements that study abroad can fulfill for graduation. In addition to inspiration and research opportunities for senior theses, study abroad experiences can also supplement for the Significant Practical Experience, core and major required classes, core cultural studies courses, and internship experiences.

Study abroad experiences aren’t just for the academics, however. Many traveling opportunities are available to those who step outside of their comfort zones in pursuit of adventure. Clark speaks highly of the traveling opportunities she’s had while abroad.

“I have been very lucky to do a lot of traveling while abroad,” said Clark. “Traveling within Morocco is very cheap, and there are great public transportation systems. Weekends have been full of trips to different cities around the country. I have been to Fez, Ifrane, Marrakech, Rabat, Tetouan, Zawiya Ahansai, and Merzouga.” Traveling while abroad is one of the top reasons why students go abroad.

Zaya Amarjargal clearly exemplifies this with passion. Amarjargal is an international student from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia who is a junior at Maryville College. Although she chose to study at Maryville College, she has a heart for traveling and is currently partaking in a semester-long study abroad experience in Graz, Austria. She lives in an apartment flat with three other students and raves about the city campus, the close proximity to the city center, and the public transportation available.

For some, however, public transportation is something that presents a clear challenge to students. Valparaíso, Chile is the temporary home to Allison Spurlock, a senior Spanish major at Maryville College. The city is also infamous for its “micros,” the lightening-fast public buses that zip around sharp corners, come to halting stops, and pack more passengers than thought possible.

This is considered normal to local residents, but it may prove to be problematic for American students who are not used to public transportation. However, Spurlock maintains her usual positive, uplifting attitude despite the difficulties and speaks more about the personal and educational growth she has experienced while abroad. She takes special pride in mastering the Chilean Spanish, which any Spanish speaker will tell you is difficult to learn.

“Though it may be true that Chilean Spanish is fast, full of slang, and Chileanismos (slang words only present in certain regions in Chile), it’s a great test of adaptability,” said Spurlock.

Adaptability is a key phrase all students use when describing their experiences abroad. No matter how well a student can learn and prepare, challenges pop up unexpectantly in a variety of situations. The key to success while abroad is adaptability.

“Embrace the challenges that will come. I have grown so much as a person, learned more about myself, and have come to love and appreciate myself and others in new ways,” said Clark.

Another important lesson that these students have mentioned, much like many others who have gone abroad for an extended amount of time, is independence.

“One of the best lessons I’ve learned was how to be alone and be at peace when you’re away from home,” said Spurlock. “This is your experience and only yours. Don’t feel pressured to do things you don’t want to, stay places where you don’t feel safe, or mirror the journey of another, just for the sake of doing it. Enjoy your time.”

Study abroad experiences are unmatched possibilities to learn and expand personally, socially, and educationally. Each of these students has acquired life-long memories and lessons, and they’re all excited to share with you!

For more information about study abroad opportunities, visit the International House next to Sutton. You can also follow the department on social media with the tag @mcscotsabroad, or email them at [email protected].

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