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Global News

#THROWBACK


Study abroad experiences are for everyone and leave lasting impressions throughout your lifetime. Many WVU staff and faculty members have had the opportunity to study abroad and credit the lessons they learned abroad to helping them shape who they are today, and their futures. Here is where we showcase those experiences to give examples of how an education abroad can impact your life long after you have returned home.

1.) Andrew Patrick, OGA Assistant Director, Student Advocate
  • Where did you study abroad and why did you do it?
    • Semester at Sea through the Institute for Shipboard Education, Spring semester of 2004. We travelled to Nassau, Bahamas; Havana, Cuba; Salvador, Brazil; Cape Town, South Africa; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Chennai, India; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Hong Kong, China; Busan, South Korea; and Osaka, Japan. I circumnavigated the globe on a ship with over 600 students from every  AndyU.S state and from dozens of other countries.
    • I knew I wanted to travel and get out of my comfort zone but didn’t know where. I had never traveled abroad or even been on a plane other than a one-way flight from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh when I was 12. I would daydream and read a lot and I just knew that there was more out there. I wanted to see and experience people and places that I had only read about. I knew there was much more than just West Virginia and my small corner of the world, but I didn’t know exactly how to get it. Study Abroad was my ticket because I knew my parents didn’t travel and neither did my friends. I knew I had to do something different and it was on me to take a chance. I was tired of my routine and doing what just was expected of me by friends and family. This was a way for me to be separate from everything that was familiar and really discover who I really was and who I wanted to become.

  • How did your views change from the start of the trip to the end? Andy at Sea
    • At the beginning of the trip, I was quite naïve. Luckily, I had made friends with some experienced travelers that helped me along the way. I was more reserved and self-conscious before I went, but I learned to be less bashful and realize that I have a lot to offer others. Growing up, I was taught to view the world as a scary place at times and had encountered xenophobia and cultural insensitivity in others in my hometown, in my family, and in my schools. My trip confirmed for me that this way of thought was based on fear, prejudice, and ignorance, and I was no longer afraid to state my opinion and stand up to these shameful views. I knew the world and the people in it were truly beautiful and the trip and my experiences just confirmed that for me and gave me more confidence moving forward to explore, question, and critically think about the world.

  • Did studying abroad have an impact on your education, future career goals, or your outlook on the future?
    • It was the most important decision of my academic and personal development. I overcame my bashfulness, realized my capacity for leadership and service, and spent three wonderful months with amazing people from all over the world, some of which became my best friends and were in my wedding. I watched the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets in the middle of the ocean and saw the brightest stars that I have ever seen.
    • I was studying Biology at the time, thinking I wanted to do research, but my experience helped me realize that I wanted to teach. I volunteered in many schools around the world and loved every minute of it. When I worked with those that were less fortunate, they always found a way to say that an education would mean the most to them and were fascinated to hear about my high school and college experience. It made me realize that education was a noble pursuit and a passion of mine. When I returned home, I changed my major and never looked back. It was because of my study abroad experience that I am working in education today. Andy with students
    • My communication skills blossomed as a result of the trip. Conversing with people from all over the United States and the world helped me overcome my shyness and honed my ability to put myself out there and to show interests in others. I also volunteered at a lot of schools both in poor and affluent areas and I learned how different cultures approach education and adapted many of the models in my own teaching. This helped me to globalize my classrooms and give students a variety of experiences and methods that I would have otherwise not known about within the rigid framework of American education. Also, the experience improved my problem-solving skills as I often had to learn to navigate new and challenging circumstances. I was exposed to different leadership styles and was able to practice those as a student of service leader and organizer of programs on our ship. One of our ship coordinators encouraged me to continue to practice these skills, which led me to become an RA to finish my undergrad and Hall coordinator during my graduate degree when I returned to WVU.

  • Any advice for students who are about to go abroad or are considering it?
    • Same advice that was given to me: Don’t be bashful, be who you truly have always wanted to be, accept the challenges as a part of the learning process, and don’t be afraid to be selfish and use the  Andyexperience for yourself and your own growth. My oldest brother also told me this:
      “Don’t let your schooling interfere with your education.”
      I think he was trying to tell me that there is much more to learn outside of the classroom. This goes with my other favorite quote I learned when I was studying abroad, “The world is a book and those who don’t travel read only one page.”



2.) Dr. William Brustein, Vice President for Global Strategy and International Affairs

   



3.) Dr. Todd Hamrick,  Teaching Associate Professor in the Freshman Engineering Program and Academic Advisor





4.) Megan Ramirez, Education Abroad Coordinator

  • Where and when did you study abroad?
    • My first study abroad was to the Sultanate of Oman during the summer of 2016.  While in Oman, I completed intensive studies in Arabic and learned about Middle Eastern and Gulf culture.  As soon as I left Oman, I knew I wanted to continue studying abroad so I studied abroad in the Czech Republic with a field study in Austria and Hungary in summer of 2017, studied in Israel later that same summer and then Morocco during the summer of 2018 and in Ghana during the spring semester of my senior year (2019). 

      Megan

  • Why did you decide to do it?
    • I have always felt that there are a lot of misconceptions about other cultures and that the best way to understand a concept or another person is through firsthand experience.  Additionally, part of my degree criteria required me to fulfill a minimum of six credit hours in a foreign language.  I thought it would be valuable to know Arabic and I ended up pursuing Arabic studies abroad because courses were not offered at my home university.  Studying in Oman left me with the knowledge that the world is so much more larger and more complex than I was previously able to understand and because of this, I planned out the rest of my coursework so that I could continue to discover the world through study abroad. 


  • What were your experiences like? Any favorite memories or stories?
    • Each of my study abroad experiences was unique because each is influenced by the people around and the host culture. 

      Megan

      While studying in Ghana, my Ghanaian roommate and I would do all kinds of fun activities together. She would invite her friends over to our room and we would do anything that came to mind.  Some of our favorite topics to talk about included witchcraft, traditional values and language.  They would teach me Ga and Twi and in return I would say different phrases in English for them to analyze as they were all English majors.  We also enjoyed cooking food together; my roommate would teach me how to make Ghanaian food and I would teach her how to make American desserts such as apple pie.  We had a lot of fun together and I learned things about Ghana that I otherwise wouldn’t have.  We still send each other jokes about American dialects, obrofosen (not sure how to translate this) and the eventful tro tro ride we took to get to her friend’s wedding.  

      Another memorable experience was the night my classmates and I spent camping in the Sahara (Morocco) with the Amazigh or Berber people.  Sand dunes stretched on as far as we could see and, after the last rays of sunlight had vanished from the horizon, the Milky Way was on full display. For a lack of better words, it was simply extraordinary. 


  • Did studying abroad have an impact on your education, future career goals, or your outlook on the future?
    • I am more confident after studying abroad because I have proven to myself that I can do so many things I previously had not thought possible. 

    • As an Education Abroad Coordinator with WVU, understanding the student perspective on study abroad will help me connect students to international opportunities that will allow them to achieve their academic and professional goals while fulfilling their personal interests.  Furthermore, my international experience helps me appreciate and communicate through the similarities and differences of other cultures. 

      Egypt
    • If you are thinking about studying abroad then come talk to me! I suggest that you go online to educationabroad.wvu.edu and explore the programs we offer or to talk to me or Shelby Concepcion about programs that meet your academic and personal interests.  For those about to go I would say, go in with an open mind and get uncomfortable! Make friends with locals, visit local bakeries and coffee shops, try to speak the language and always, always say yes to tea.







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Three WVU students awarded Critical Language Scholarships

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Provost Announces Creation of new Global Unit
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OGA strives to showcase all of our faculty, student, and staff's achievements across the globe. If you have a story that embodies the global mission of WVU, please share it with us, so that we can help tell that story.

globalaffairs@mail.wvu.edu