Cidney Grimes, Black Bear– The benefits of studying abroad are almost endless. The benefits of studying abroad can range from higher GPA’s to higher starting salaries in your career field. Desmond Warren, senior, and Kimbreli Elliot, senior, have all had the opportunity to travel outside of the country for school credit.
Desmond Warren had the opportunity to travel to Cuernavaca, Morelos Mexico for 1 year and two months, while Kimberli Elliott spent three weeks in Fiji and New Zealand. Though they were in two different parts of the world, they shared similar experiences while also having some that were different from culture shock and their minority experience.
For Desmond, he had to realize that Mexico was a high context culture. “I would tell my friends to meet me at the movies at 6, and they wouldn’t get there until 6:45,”says Desmond. High context cultures are primarily in Asian and Latin America, and communicate implicitly and place value on building close connections over a long period of time. “Another thing that bothered me was the traffic, it would take me two hours to get to school that was twenty minutes away.”
While in Fiji, Kimberli’s culture shock was not necessarily a bad thing, “The Fijian people were very welcoming and polite. They were humble and didn’t make me feel like an outsider.” However, when she visited New Zealand, she experienced harsh comments and stares. “New Zealand was very different from Fiji, because their culture didn’t really care for Americans.”
Being a minority in a different country is a different experience for everyone, and for the most part of Desmond’s experience, it was positive. “I felt like a celebrity in Mexico, people were asking me to take photos, buy me drinks, things like that,” says Desmond. “Here in Springfield I have not really had any bad experiences besides people applying their stereotypes and assumptions, but I wouldn’t change anything about my experience though. It shaped who I am today.”
For Kimberli, the people were mostly inviting and culturally diverse. “They wanted me to learn their customs, beliefs, and emphasized the type of people they were.” In Springfield, Elliott has not had the best experience. “Some people are friendly, don’t get me wrong, but most are impolite and rude if you aren’t the same race as them.”
For anyone interested in studying away, Kimberli says “Always have an open mind, consider new things, and do research on whatever country you’re going to.”
For more info on studying abroad opportunities Contact the Study Away Office in PSU Room 209.