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 U.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?
- 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.
- 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
experience 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
February 2, 2018
January 11, 2018
January 8, 2018
August 8, 2017
May 3, 2017
April 24, 2017
March 31, 2017
March 29, 2017
Provost Announces Creation of new Global Unit
September 9, 2016