History Major Allison Grant Reflects on her study abroad (and you can too)

I have always had a strong desire to travel. I knew from the moment I started applying to colleges, I would study abroad. Last Spring, I had the opportunity to study abroad. Through a partnership with Central Connecticut State University, I applied to the National University of Ireland-Galway.

Some of the courses I took included: Development of the Medieval Castle in Europe, Theories of Personality, and a Service Learning Literacy Project. Most of the classes fulfilled my Social Science Core.

The classes in Ireland were very different from the classes at Eastern, most of the classes had only two assignments for the whole semester, attendance was not always recorded, and most classes consisted of fifty to seventy students in them. Almost all the students use a laptop during class.

When I left for Ireland, I expected to spend all of my time in Ireland. I did not. I went to Copenhagen (Denmark), London (United Kingdom), Berlin (Germany), Italy (starting from Venice traveled down to Sicily), Athens (Greece), and Amsterdam (the Netherlands). There are so many great memories I have from this trip. I learned so much. Not just from classes but more from meeting people.

There are moments you wish you could take a snapshot of and be able to replay whenever you want. One of those moments for me was sitting in Piazza Michelangelo writing in my journal. Another is watching the Easter celebration unfold in front of the Duomo, in Florence.

In Athens, I was able to volunteer at a refugee camp. The refugees all came from different areas of the Middle East. The refugees were staying on the Port of Pireus. All the families were given a tent; it was humbling to see that everything they owned was in that tent.

Most of the volunteers did not speak Arabic or Farsi. A group of translators, all refugees themselves, helped volunteers communicate with children and adults in the camp. The youngest translator was a boy, about twelve. I was shocked and impressed. I did not believe he was a translator. The boy had every right to be very upset about living in a tent but he decided to be a positive.

The next day, I went back to the camp. A little girl came up to me and gave me her little sister, maybe six months old, and then walked away. I looked around for a parent but did not find one. Once again I was shocked by the situation, the trust that the little girl had in me. Later that day, I was playing with a different young girl, two or three years old, her parents came and took her away. She started crying a little while later and the parents brought her back to me. Being American, I figured that any refugee would not trust me in the camp or around their children. I was surprised when I was accepted by them.

AllisonGrant

Studying abroad was the most life changing and positive experiences of my life. I would go back tomorrow if I could. The culture and different experiences while abroad, have made me a better more conscious citizen. If you have an opportunity to study aboard, even if it might be inconvenient, I strong recommend doing it.

If you too would like to have a life-changing experience, check out the many study abroad opportunities through Eastern.