Article submitted by Gregory French, ACES Advisor and Graduate Student Intern, who checked in with several ACES students who spent spring 2019 abroad.
For students who have taken their academics abroad and gained exposure to new cultures, the end of an academic year is an opportunity to reflect upon new, memorable experiences and think about where their semester started in comparison to where their journey has since led them.
Before their semesters abroad, many students share the same feelings as Jessica Elliston, a sophomore in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, who spent last semester in South Africa.
“Before going abroad I was unsure if I could manage to be on my own and so far away from my family, but South Africa is such a beautiful place with such beautiful people and has taught me so much,” Elliston said.
This idea of pushing one’s self outside of their comfort zone is part of the adjustment, and it takes resiliency for students to learn about others and themselves outside of known experiences. But beyond these initial uncertainties and preconceived notions of studying abroad, students find transformation in themselves, often beyond what was initially expected.
Meghan Selip, a junior in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics studying in the Netherlands in this program, reflected, “Living alone in another country with none of your friends or family is courageous. Studying abroad has made me stronger and more independent and more apt to handle adversity.”
Dorothy Aleksonis, a senior in psychology studying in South Africa, noted, “My biggest transformation since being abroad is that I have learned to be more independent and how to take initiative. Overall, I think the way my perspective has changed is that it has opened my eyes to the world and made me realize how there can be so many different people with their own story, culture, and challenges.”
Jessica Elliston added, “Being abroad has taught me to appreciate and respect diversity.”
These testimonials show how the progressive experiences students gain while navigating a new academic, cultural, and personal pathways will shape the direction and perspective of these students moving forward. Studying abroad supplements each of these students’ academics by providing transformational experiences that help define how they view themselves and the world’s diverse cultures.
Learn more about ACES Education abroad programs here.