Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Before Switzerland and Canterbury, England 2016

When I first signed up to study abroad in 2016 with Columbia College, I did not necessarily expect that it would be feasible. I was worried the programs might be too expensive or that it might delay my date of graduation. However, I am very passionate about traveling and education in different countries, and I was very interested in Columbia College's study abroad programs. After a presentation by Dr. Kessel in my Japanese language class, I decided it wouldn't hurt to apply for scholarships and to apply for the program on the off-chance that it might be possible for me to pursue education abroad through Columbia College. I met with Dr. Kessel and Dr. Mauxion to discuss the upcoming programs and the opportunities I had, I applied for the scholarships, and I came up with a plan of action. I was soon shocked to find that not only was I eligible for two programs I was most interested in but also that I had been awarded study abroad scholarships that, with loans and a work, would make it possible for me to take part in the MOSAIC program in Lugano, Switzerland and the semester-long program in Canterbury, England, an amazing location to travel from being only an hour from London by train.

I immediately began to research how I could make the most of this opportunity. I had two main goals: to travel extensively in Europe and to learn as much as I could about sustainability along the way. Fortunately, my professors and  Columbia College staff members were very helpful and encouraging. Dr. Mauxion encouraged me to hike and to see Mont Blanc in France; Dr. Hardy encouraged me to get involved in sustainability; Dr. Karr encouraged me to visit a few places he had been in England which were rich in history; Dan Gonzales, a representative of the career center, spent countless hours helping me find ways to get a summertime job I was interested in that would support my travels and education; Dr. Kessel encouraged me to take the leap into both programs and showed me a lot of support along the way.

With all of the guidance, I was hired for a summertime position at Rockbridge Memorial State Park helping to preserve the park's unique habitats and leading cave and habitat tours for park visitors. This would support my goal of learning about sustainability, and it would help me to afford extensive traveling during my time abroad.

While I worked, I was also able to come up with a study and travel plan that would incorporate my professors' recommendations. With one summer MOSAIC program in Switzerland and a subsequent semester in Canterbury England, my initial plan was to study in Switzerland, then to hike between Switzerland and the boarder of France to the ferry that crosses the channel between England and France, and to travel from there to Canterbury, where I would study culture and sustainability and continue to travel during the short breaks from school.

Though my original plan shifted and changed, I was able to do much of what I originally hoped to, and I was introduced to much more along the way.

Where my journey began
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