Study abroad check-in from opposite sides of the world

Featured Image: Junior Cara Caruso visits the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with new friends. Cara Caruso | Courtesy

Spanning all over the globe from New York City to Japan, Marlins can be found off campus both near and far. This semester, many students have had the opportunity to engage with study programs, enabling them to travel and learn in unique ways. 

Junior Alyssa Lane is one such student who is currently experiencing the opportunities that international study abroad programs offer. At the University of Malta, she has been living in Msida, Malta, a small island country right below Sicily.

“I like the variety that comes from living in such a small country. Malta is a country built out of pieces of other countries,” Lane said.

Living in a completely new country can be scary, especially when you don’t know anyone, but Lane talked about how the Erasmus Student Union on campus, a society for international students, has been a big help for her experience abroad. 

Because of her involvement in the organization, Lane has been able to participate in many fun activities. 

“I’ve been able to have a surfing lesson, a trip to Gozo (the island next door) and a trip to an open market on the other side of the island,” Lane said.

Sophomore Rowan Stuart has also been able to do many fun things during his time at Lakeland University in Tokyo, Japan. 

“I’ve been able to visit cool climbing gyms, shopping districts, museums and parks,” Stuart said. 

Since living in Japan, he has been surprised by various things that have made the transition of living in a different country easier. 

“The fast food places all have menus you can point at to order at the counter,” Stuart said. “There is also a lot more English writing and speaking than I expected.”

He excitedly added his love for the convenience stores. “They have literally everything here from steak dinners to photocopying services. They are truly a one-stop shop,” Stuart said.

For those interested in travel experiences without making the semester commitment to an international program, Spring Break offered two week-long courses that students could sign up for. 

EES 250: Field Experiences in Earth and Environmental Sciences was led by Professors Maynard Schaus and Marielle Postava-Davigon in Puerto Rico. It was an intensive field experience course that allowed students to study a variety of habitats. 

Senior Abigail Peterson was motivated to take the course due to her interest in going on another study abroad trip before she graduated. 

“I was excited by the biodiversity in the area [of Puerto Rico] and thought it would be a great chance to do another research project,” Peterson said.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the trip for her was going on a night hike. 

“My favorite memory was when we turned off our headlamps, and we were surrounded by fireflies in the dark,” Peterson said. 

HUM 201: Art & Culture in NYC, led by Professor Travis Malone, allowed for a closer-to-home travel experience. Students were able to visit a variety of museums, attend Broadway musicals and plays and explore parts of the city. 

Junior Dorothy Yanku-Palmer expressed her excitement for having the opportunity to see the hit musicals “Six,” “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Sweeney Todd.” 

“It has always been my dream to come to NYC and see shows live on stage,” Yanku-Palmer said. 

A part of their itinerary included linking up with some other fellow students in the city too. Virginia Wesleyan’s Camerata Choir had the opportunity to perform Ola Gjeilo’s Sunrise Mass at Carnegie Hall on March 11, and the students from the HUM 201 course were able to go and watch the performance. 

Junior Brooke Underwood, a member of Wesleyan Camerata, described what it was like to perform at the prestigious venue with Professor Bryson Mortenson conducting them. 

“It was absolutely surreal. I came off the stage in tears because of how in awe I was at the experience,” Underwood said. “This trip reminded me of just how grand music can be. I get to sing with my best friends everyday, but to do it on a stage like that one was something so different. It felt like we were making art together.” 

If you’re worried about making the decision to potentially study abroad at all either short or long term, Junior Cara Caruso, who is studying at FAAP in São Paulo, Brazil right now, reassures that it’s not as bad as our minds make it out to be sometimes. 

“You find that there are a lot of people in the same boat as you. It’s not as scary because you are not alone,” Caruso said. “Everyone should study abroad!”

By Phoebe Cox