Name: Sara Liming
Preferred e-mail: email@example.com
Expected graduation date: May 2013
Study Abroad Program and dates: CIS - Summer in Scotland, International Summer School 15 June – 11 Aug
Why do you want to serve as a Study Abroad E-bassador at Pittsburg State University? I had always wanted to study abroad. I made the decision when I was a junior in high school, but never had the opportunity until last summer. Studying abroad allows someone to learn about another part of the world, another culture, but more importantly you learn about yourself. I thought I knew who I was, but studying abroad helped me make connections and form ideas about the world that have come to shape who I am. I would give anything to study abroad again before I graduate.
What were the deciding factors in choosing your study abroad program-location? I had initially wanted to study abroad in Ireland for an entire summer. The longest program I could find for Ireland though was six weeks. I wouldn’t study abroad for anything less than eight. So I went through a book that held programs for Ireland and Scotland next to one another. I found a program in Scotland for eight weeks. One thing led to another, then next thing I know, I find myself applying to the University of Stirling in Scotland for their eight week program.
Describe a defining moment in your abroad experience and how that experience(s) has affected you personally, intellectually, vocational, spiritually, or academically. One rather embarrassing moment has shaped the way that I choose my words and think carefully about what I’m about to say. One night after going to a bar to watch the Olympics, my two flat mates and I walked to catch the last bus home. It was a rather cool night and I was wearing a skirt. As we round the corner to the bus stop, Katherine said the weather was perfect and she wished every night was like this. I reply back that I would like it more if I were wearing pants. Ginny and Katherine stop and stare at me, mouths wide open, while I continue walking. Ginny pulls me aside and tells me, “You realize that pants mean underwear here, don’t you?” I would like to point out that I knew that knickers meant underwear, but what I didn’t know was that pants also meant underwear. I was immediately mortified because there were a bunch of older citizens around me when I said that, rather loudly I might add. I felt particularly bad because you can tell that most people were horrified. Ever since then, I’ve been careful with what words I say and how loud I speak. That was a moment when I truly felt like a tourist.
What advice, recommendations would you give to prospective study abroad students?
- Don’t hold back on anything. If you have the money to take a trip, go.
- Take any opportunity that is given to you.
- Interact with the locals as much as possible. It’s amazing what kind of things you can experience. SAVE, SAVE, SAVE your money.
- It’s expensive to call back home, so look into buying an international plan through your phone provider or look into buying a phone when you get overseas. Be cautious in how much you talk on the phone and utilize skype.
- Life is different. You will always be a tourist in most eyes of the home country, no matter if you stay a semester or a year.
In retrospect, how would you prepare differently to maximize the study abroad experience?
If I were to do it all over again, I would make sure that I saved as much money as possible. I didn’t have enough money to do everything I wanted in addition to paying for food and transportation, but I had enough money for two big-ish trips. Explore and walk anywhere that you can. There were so many things I left wishing that I had done. Don’t leave with regrets.
I will always remember my time abroad, and it even changed my life enough that I’m currently looking for jobs in the area that I studied. Studying abroad was the best decision I made in my life.