So. You’ve had this amazing, life-changing adventure. You’ve studied abroad. But what do you do now? (Besides rave about it to anyone who will listen.) Well, as I learned at the Welcome Back Reception for returning study abroad students, there are countless ways to extend the study abroad experience back to life in the U.S. This is important information to know for people who have studied abroad and those who are considering doing so. After you travel across the world and back, the world is at your feet. Here’s how you take advantage of it.
One simple lesson I was taught growing up was to put others before yourself. I did not know the true meaning of this lesson until my recent travels to Zacapa, Guatemala. Sponsored by Athletic Therapeutic Institute Physical Therapy and Hearts in Motion, I joined four other students from across the country on a service learning trip to a country we knew little about, Guatemala. We had one mission in mind: provide those in need with exceptional physical therapy and medical services.
One of the most exciting possibilities open to students at Westfield is the chance to study abroad. Students can spend weeks, months, or even a full year in a different country where they can earn college credit, increase their intercultural understanding, and create memories that will last a lifetime.
From April 7 to April 14, I had the pleasure of taking a course in Guatemala around the city of Antigua. I traveled to Guatemala on a short-term study abroad program with twenty-nine nursing students and three nursing faculty members. With the support of a local mission, our group spent the week helping others and exploring the culture. Every experience offered a different learning opportunity, such as understanding that the concerns we have in the United States are not the same as those in other countries. Being able to communicate in Spanish thanks to my double major in Spanish made the years of hard work learning the language worthwhile.
Throughout our college careers at Westfield State, students are encouraged to study abroad for a short-term or long-term course. The university offers dozens of remarkable opportunities for students, and I was fortunate to take advantage of one in January.
During spring break of 2018, we had the amazing opportunity to travel with 10 other people to Panajachel, Guatemala to do something we are both passionate about — giving back to people who truly deserve and need it while being able to immerse into a new culture. This trip was run through a non-profit organization called Worthy Village, an organization that builds pathways out of poverty for women and children in Guatemala by providing economic opportunity, healthcare, and education.
In May of 2017 we were given the opportunity to step completely out of our comfort zone by traveling halfway around the world. Through the Go Global program offered by Westfield State University, we traveled from Boston to Beijing to begin our trip filled with unforgettable experiences, learning, and memories.
I knew before I even started college that I wanted to study abroad, and where did not matter so much as why: I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and go somewhere I had never been, to experience something beyond the life I have known here. However, as an Education major with a very tight schedule, this seemed nearly impossible. I decided to go on the summer short-term Tropical Ecology trip to Costa Rica, and it was the best decision I have ever made. Though it sounds cliché, those two weeks changed my life.
Topics: Study abroad
Fifteen Westfield State University students took part in a two-week study abroad course to Costa Rica in January. The group was led by Biology Professor Tim Parshall, Ph.D., accompanied by Environmental Science Professor Michael Vorwerk, Ph.D.
Topics: Study abroad
There’s more to learning at Westfield State University than what’s being taught in your classroom. Take a trip outside of those four walls and learn how you can get onsite job training, earn school credits and meet potential employers through experiential education programs.