Study Abroad Testimonials
The Office of International Programs at Marietta College includes a number of interlocking components that provide many opportunities for enhancing your international understanding and experience. Our staff works to provide programming and support services to our international student population on campus, and promotes international opportunities, whether internships, volunteer opportunities or study abroad programs to all Marietta College students.
As a former study abroad participant, I know firsthand the benefits to studying in another country. At Marietta College, we encourage our students to broaden their horizons and explore other perspectives in a number of academic classes with international themes, by interacting with our international student population or by participating in an overseas experience.
I encourage each person to explore our programs, and read the below testimonials from our students, staff and faculty about their overseas experiences. A trustee and alumna of the College recently remarked, “Marietta College gives you the opportunities you never thought you’d have.” Take advantage of the unique overseas and domestic courses offered, and try something different.
Director, International Programs
If I had to name something in my life that offered me depth and perspective into my own existence, something so valuable that I would not want to have missed, I would have to say that the opportunities I have had in my life to study abroad have been priceless.
I have traveled a lot, and had many opportunities to be far from home as a tourist, but brief trips such as these do not immerse one in a new culture. If you want to know who you really are, who you might become, there's nothing like leaving your home, and all that's comforting and familiar, and finding your reflection in different and distant mirrors.
I was an exchange student in (then) West Germany in my junior year of high school. I lived in Bonn and attended Beethoven Gymnasium as part of a direct exchange program between B.G. and my school in Seattle, WA. It was 1982--the last years of the cold war. I was living in the capital of a divided Germany, a country still shaped by the loss of WWII. President Reagan was coming to Bonn to discuss military issues with people like the father (a high-ranking naval officer) of my exchange family, and all of western Europe had something to say about it. Germans I spoke to were very aware of being on the front lines of the cold war, the first line of defense against the Soviets. A commonly expressed German fear at the time was that America believed a limited nuclear war could (and should) be successfully fought in central Europe—in Germany and Poland—against the USSR. It sounds strange today, but at the time, it must have seemed real and frightening.
In response to Reagan's visit to Bonn, my usual routine of school was disrupted. There were concerts, political actions, and a rally of over 250,000 people. My exchange family were very pro-American, and they tended to protect me from anything they felt might be a problem. We left a concert early once when one performer got a little heated against the U.S., and instead of attending the rally, we had a picnic in the Siebengibirge. I was also in the audience of a live broadcast German talkshow when a political group took over the station for some political performance art.
This was like nothing I had ever seen. I was never afraid of saying I was an American; I was and still am quite proud to be an American, and there was nothing happening that would have been scary for me. However, for the first time I saw the world through the eyes of Germans, and I began to understand that we had relationships with other countries—relationships that were dynamic and complicated. I began to understand that German history and national identity did not end with WWII.
While in Bonn, I never felt I was watching our German allies hate America, so much as I was watching a divided Germany begin to redefine and reshape their place in the world and their relationship with us. No Germans I knew then would have said that reunification of their country would come before the end of the decade, but as I look back now I see that change was clearly happening. They were beginning to shape themselves in a way that made the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 seem almost inevitable. I had the great good fortune to be there, and (through my exchange family) to meet some of the famous and powerful people involved in these international negotiations between America and Germany. I would have never seen or, or even begun to understand the transformation of Germany if I had not been there in 1982.
My opportunities to study abroad have taught me a lot about Germany, but they also taught me a lot about myself--about what was important to me, about what I wanted strangers to know about me or trust in me. Study abroad isn't usually protests and international drama; in fact, it almost never is. But study abroad is always amazing, and challenging, and informative. Students should leave home, speak a different language, eat different food and talk to different people. Students should go study where they do not disappear against the background, a place where they use their minds and hearts to discover the self and connect in a way that can only happen far from home.
I traveled to London, England, the summer after my junior year in high school with about 12-15 other students from a combined AP (Advanced Placement) course in British Literature and American Studies.
Traveling to Europe was an experience that definitely enhanced my educational experience and gave me an opportunity to see places I would have never visited otherwise.
The trip was highlighted by a visit to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, Buckingham Palace, the prehistoric Stonehenge monument, the communal hot springs of Bath, various markets and shops along the Thames River, and navigating through Piccadilly Circus on the underground transportation system known as the Tube.
Studying abroad was an amazing experience and one that has heightened my interest and awareness in cultural diversity.
I participated in a year-long study abroad experience in Dakar, Senegal - West Africa in 1987-88. The program was sponsored by the Great Lakes College Association.
When I look back on my experiences in Senegal, I am reminded:
- of the joy of becoming fluent in a language that I had studied for several years,
- of visiting Goree Island, the last stop for slaves before coming to America,
- of dancing with a West African dance company,
- of eating fish and rice around a common bowl seated on the floor,
- of the friends I made who are still in my life today,
- of how my life and choices to date would have been so different if not for this experience.
Studying abroad changed my life in deep and positive ways which I am thankful for even today--20 years later!
I did fieldwork in Sumatra for 18 months in the early 1970s, and returned to Sumatra or Indonesia for shorter research trips of several weeks to several months over the next decades.
In the 1980s, I also began to do historical research about Indonesia using archival materials in the Netherlands. I spent a year there with my family in 1980-81, and again made short trips there in the summer, and once for a semester.
Learning other languages and living for extended periods in other countries have been central to my intellectual life and my career. I know I see the world very differently today than I did when I was 20 and before all these journeys began.
I chose to take the three credit hour J-term Spanish 194 course—Civilization and Culture of Spain class taught by Dr. Danford to fulfill my Global Multi-Cultural requirement. The class was taught in English. To prepare for the course and the trip we held class several times before we departed.
Dr. Danford helped us prepare for our trip with classroom assignments, packing and travel tips and providing information on the cultural differences between the U.S. and Spain. We had a large group traveling, approximately 20 students. Dr. Danford set up our entire itinerary and it was well organized. The students who traveled with us were a good group who were outgoing and felt comfortable venturing out on their own to take part in and learn about the European culture.
The trip was educational and fun. I truly enjoyed the architecture of Spain with its elaborate churches and castles. The family atmosphere was welcoming and it was amazing to me how many people were active late into evening, women, children, grandparents, etc. I liked the inviting feel of the open doorway to the shops and cafes.
I enjoyed learning about the culture and then experiencing it first hand. I would not hesitate to do it again and would recommend this wonderful experience to everyone.
I spent a full year in London while I was a graduate student in history at Harvard University. I had received a fellowship to support my graduate study, and I learned during orientation that the fellowship included support for study abroad if that was necessary. I immediately decided to be sure that my dissertation topic would make travel to London necessary.
My research on propaganda and censorship in early seventeenth century England required that I read government documents, early published books, and miscellaneous manuscripts located in the British Museum and the Public Record Office in London, so I spent months in the reading room where Karl Marx wrote, in an archive poring over the handwritten notes and memoranda of seventeenth century public figures, and simply enjoying the aesthetic of holding a first edition of the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer.
My experience was much enriched by participating in seminars at the Institute of Historical Research in London led by two of the senior scholars in my field and attended by graduate students from all over the English speaking world. Those seminars provided rich intellectual experience as well as introductions to friends with whom I explored the sights of London, and yes, the pubs and the nightlife, too.
We traveled all over the city on the tube and the buses, sampled the international cuisine that London's immigrants made possible, attended an average of a theater production a week, and came to think of London as our city.
During my stay in London, a coal miner strike forced the entire country into rolling blackouts, so for four hour stretches, there was no power in London. From this, I learned three things: that the British spirit is as indomitable as it is portrayed to be, that traffic was snarled but not entirely stopped by the absence of traffic lights, and that I could not type by candle light!
Since my experience was in an English-speaking country, I did not have the opportunity to immerse myself in a second language. I did deepen my affection for Queen Elizabeth I, my historical role model; marvel at Sir John Gielgud's acting ability; develop the confidence that comes with going to a place where you know no one and making your way; and make England the second home of my heart for life. My advice to anyone who has an opportunity to study abroad is jump at that opportunity and do not look back.
When I was 23 years old it occurred to me that I had never been on a plane and had never traveled more than a day's drive from my hometown. I had always enjoyed reading about other cultures, but I had never acted on that curiosity.
Fortunately, one of my professors from my undergraduate college knew of a small language school in Japan and suggested that I apply for a job there. I stayed for a year in Japan and learned a great deal about that country's long history and wonderful culture. I felt completely at home there and learned a lot about my home country by getting the chance to step outside it for a time.
When I came back home I took a special interest in working with international students in English classes. My wife and I take our kids to Japan every few years now: Japan, its people and their culture are all a permanent part of my life now and I am thoroughly thankful for it.
As part of the McDonough Leadership Study Abroad Program, Dr. Matthew Young and I led a group of students, faculty, and staff to China in May 2005 (May 9 –May 23, 2005) to experience the country’s significant changes in its economy, leadership, and politics. The trip focused on Beijing’s cultural treasures and Shanghai’s business and commercial ascendancy.
In Beijing, the participants experienced, firsthand, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, and other world-famous wonders of China’s over- 4000-year-old civilization, in and around China’s capital.
The group also visited institutions of higher education and two non-governmental organizations (NGOs): an orphanage and a nursing home. In Shanghai, participants went the Bund, Shanghai’s historic financial center, and the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. The group also toured the operation of major multinational companies like General Motors’ state-of-the-art Shanghai automobile assembly facility, inspected the operations of a domestic Chinese business, and heard about the logistical and human resources challenges that China presents for such cutting-edge American businesses as General Electric and DuPont—on site—from company executives themselves.
After I graduated from college, I headed to China for a year to teach English. That experience was life changing, because it demonstrated the power of history, ideas, and culture, which I had only been able to grasp in the abstract before.
Consequently, I believe that all students should have the opportunity to travel and live abroad. It is a vital part the educational process, and I enjoyed taking part as an instructor during the summer 2005 trip to China.