By Aïda Rogers, email@example.com
There’s no telling what can happen when you’re studying abroad. If you’re Cory Alpert, ’17 sociology, you take a road trip up the east coast of Australia and wake up in your car one morning to
see kangaroos jumping across the beach.
If you’re Kelley Kennedy, ’17 international business/economics, you make friends from all over Europe at a Christmas market in Edinburgh, and sample real Scotch together. What’s likely is that no matter where SCHC students go, their minds get stretched, their perspectives forever altered. There’s nothing like going there, doing that and being better for the experience.
“I had a fantasy of Paris as this romantic, fanciful city filled with ornate old buildings, little cafes and, of course, the looming Eiffel Tower,” confesses Rebecca Steptoe, an English/history junior from Irmo. “And in one sense, Paris really is all those things.”
But taking photos atop the Galeries Lafayette department store, her fantasy dissolved. From there, the Eiffel Tower was tiny in the far distance. And with tour buses and celebrity ads crowding her view, Steptoe learned something valuable.
“Paris is as much a product of modernity as any other large city,” she observes. “Just
because they speak French and drink a lot of espresso doesn’t mean Parisians are somehow
stuck in a romantic, pre-modern vision. Going to Paris helped me see it as a real
city, a city filled with real people who have way more
in common with me than I originally imagined.”
Steptoe entered one of those photos in the SCHC’s study abroad photo contest. As with other entries, it crystalizes lessons learned and triggers memories of adventures had. That so many life lessons happen during travel is no surprise to Megan Tone Campbell, ’10, SCHC study abroad coordinator, who points out the practicality of the program.
“A global perspective is essential for a successful professional in today’s globalized world,” Campbell says. “Many employers look for a study abroad experience on resumes, and having it shows you are open-minded and able to appreciate the differences in culture and people.”
Eighty countries, from Argentina to Zambia, have accepted SCHC students into their classrooms, labs and field studies. Since 2009, more than 2,225 SCHC students have crossed an ocean or a border to study. Besides countries in Western Europe, the most popular destinations are Chile, China, Costa Rica and Hong Kong. Students in the sciences, languages, history, international studies, business, and biomedical engineering are most likely to study abroad, Campbell’s records show.
More programs started this year. In addition to a partnership with the Honors College at the American College of Greece in Athens, four Global Classrooms are studying British Literature in London and the Surrounding Countryside, Tracing the Holocaust in Eastern Europe, and examining Social Capital in Rome and Art and Culture in Japan. A popular Honors College course is a language exchange with a university in France in which SCHC students host Parisian students for a week at USC before traveling to Paris for spring break. There also is a partnership with the USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications in Malawi.
Students soak up more than beauty. For Brooke Troxell,’17 biological sciences, nothing could surpass the Hamelin Pool stromatolites in Shark Bay, Western Australia. The first conclusive fossil evidence of life on earth, stromatolites pumped the first bits of oxygen into the atmosphere, and are rarely found on earth today.
“Lots of people marvel at sharks and crocodiles, how they have remained relatively unchanged for even millions of years,” Troxell reflects. “But when I stepped onto the boardwalk at Hamelin Pool in Shark Bay, I was transported to a world even more ancient. I could see the Earth over three billion years ago — hot and salty with almost no atmosphere. It was surreal to translate a picture in a textbook to a real-life experience.”
From left, clockwise
Abigail Hardee ’17, international business “Huangshan (the Yellow Mountains) are a World Historic Site, and the view moved most of our group to tears at being able to witness such beauty and clear air after being accustomed to the polluted, urban atmosphere that surrounds Shanghai.”
Sidney Cutter, Class of 2018, French “The name ‘Senegal’ comes from Wolof sunu gal, meaning ‘our boat,’ a reminder that we — the people of the world — are all in the same boat together and should constantly be helping each other.”
Rebecca Steptoe, Class of 2019, English “I love in this picture how small the Eiffel Tower looks. It seems like every picture or conception of Paris is centered on that tower, so seeing it offset and cast in a diminutive light helped me appreciate the many other architectural beauties of Paris.”
Jessica McMinn, Class of 2019, international business “Despite my inability to speak Hindi and my friend’s family’s limited English, they embraced me with open arms and endless love.”
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