By Alison Barnett
Every year, many Simmons students choose to spend time studying abroad. Travelling abroad is an excellent way to further your education while learning about a different culture and getting to know people outside your Simmons circle. I spoke to three Simmons students about their time abroad.
Elizabeth Carey, a senior at Simmons College majoring in Business, has been traveling since she was very young, so studying abroad during college was an easy choice.
She chose Dublin, Ireland, because her father comes from an Irish background. Visiting Ireland gave her the opportunity see her family’s ancestral village. While there, Carey got to see a church and records with her ancestors names written on them, giving her a better sense of her origins.
The best experience Carey had during her trip abroad was not in Ireland, but during an excursion to Edinburgh, Scotland. She traveled there by herself, as experiencing independent traveling was important to her. While in Edinburgh, Carey hiked the mountain Arthur’s Seat. The over two-hour hike led to a gorgeous view that was well worth the climb.
As for tips for students considering studying abroad, Carey says to research your destination ahead of time and make sure you are excited about travelling to your location. Taking the time to watch movies that take place in your location can help you learn about the culture. She also emphasizes the importance of approaching the situation with an open mind. Have some humility, and be ready to absorb the culture.
Ellen Garnett is a senior double majoring in PR/Marketing Communications and Spanish, as well as co-Editor-in-Chief of The Voice. Garnett first traveled abroad to Spain during a short summer vacation.
Last spring semester she chose to revisit Spain through a study abroad program. Garnett chose to travel to Spain to improve her Spanish. She warns potential study abroad candidates of culture shock: “This can lead to loneliness, but engaging in activities with other people helps… you learn to appreciate the norms of other cultures and effectively live within them.”
Garnett also reminds students to “not lose your passport, ever.” During her excursion to Spain she ended up losing her passport. She also urges that students keep track of deadlines for applications, check if federal aid will apply to your trip, and apply to scholarships to help pay for expenses. Being organized and aware will make studying abroad a more enjoyable experience overall.
Amanda Washington is also a senior at Simmons College. She is double majoring in International Relations and East Asian Studies. Washington wanted to experience another culture, and had dreamed of studying abroad since she started attending Simmons. She chose to study in Kyoto, Japan, because she has always had an interest in Japanese history, culture, and politics. Washington studies Japanese at Simmons, so Kyoto was a perfect fit. It provided her with a good opportunity to practice Japanese and fulfill one of her major requirements.
Washington reflected on her time in Japan noting that adjusting to a new country was “hard, but it was rewarding.” She found Japanese social circles to be closed and homogenous, making her new environment difficult to adjust to. She also found the language barrier to be a problem. However, adapting was fulfilling, and she got to live with and make friends with people from all over the world.
Her best experiences in Japan involved food and being exposed to Japanese history and culture. She had the opportunity to visit shrines, temples, and castles. Japan is filled with history, and Washington got to experience it firsthand.
Her advice to students considering studying abroad is to begin the application process early. Also, be sure to get someone to review your application to check for mistakes. Once you are abroad, “Think with an open mind and be willing to try new things.” Washington says that studying abroad is an amazing experience: she recommends it to students considering taking the leap.