Waterford, Ireland: June – July 2010
I was fortunate enough to be able to immerse myself in the Irish culture for a five-week study abroad through Valdosta State’s European Council in Waterford, Ireland. While at the Waterford Institute of Technology I studied Irish Literature after the Famine, Art Appreciation and History, and Irish Culture. Learning about Ireland from the Irish was the most enriching experience of my life. There is nothing like being able to go out and see what you are learning in your text books.
Being abroad showed me how easily I can adapt to new situations and cultures. Walking into a freezing shower once is enough to remember to open my dorm’s front door to turn on the hot water heater 30 minutes before I bathe. “Are you okay?” said in a shop translates to “Can I help you?” And most restaurants are not open past 6 p.m., so it is best to eat early if you plan on going out to eat.
It was while I was traveling in Ireland that I realized my passion for the hospitality and travel industry. I participated in at least two field trips a week and traveled with a friend every weekend. We stayed everywhere from hostels in Dublin to 5-star resorts in Scotland and London. The diversity of the industry immediately caught my attention. If I could travel and learn about new cultures the rest of my life I would.
Italy: May 2008
At Kell High School I studied four years of Latin and actively participated in the Junior Classical League and National Latin Honor Society. When our teacher presented us with the opportunity to spend two weeks in Italy to see the places we had learned about for the past four years, I jumped at the idea. The Latin books we used taught the language by following the life of a fictionalized real man that lived in Pompeii before and during the eruption of Vesuvius. We got to see his house during our tour of the city. What a blessing! To be able to see that the stories we were reading were in fact, not stories. It made everything real.
We also spent time in Sorrento and Rome learning about how rich the Italian culture truly is. They absolutely love their own language and are so proud of their architecture and history. It was amazing to see history come alive around us and learn how to live when I only caught every other word someone was saying to me. It taught me how to adapt my learning and living abilities quickly.
I would recommend studying abroad to any student whether it be to satisfy a major requirement or for general education classes. There is no experience like learning about a culture while you are learning to adapt to it. It completely opened my eyes to new opportunities that I would have never otherwise been able to imagine.