Why I’m Going to Study Abroad

Students studying abroad in Hoi An, Vietnam for Dr. McElvaine's History of the Vietnam War class over the summer of 2017. Photo Courtesy of Bailey Smith.

Jenna Gibson

Opinions Editor

I’ve only been out of the country once in my life. I went to the Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas with my church between freshman and sophomore year of college. I knew I had wanted to travel before that, but after being in the Bahamas and getting that one stamp in my passport, I realized that I wanted to travel more. I wanted to spend more time in unknown places. I only got the chance to spend a week in Eleuthera, but being able to explore and experience a completely foreign country was incredible.

When I was choosing what college to go to, I only had a few priorities in my mind. I wanted to get a good scholarship, to have good relationships with my professors, and to study abroad. Initially, I had hopes to just study abroad over the summer or winter break, since that would allow me to go abroad without worrying about my school schedule and credits. After I went to Eleuthera, though, I knew I wanted to stay somewhere else longer than a week or two.

As time went on, I was stuck continuously wishing to leave for an entire semester. Not because I dislike Millsaps, but just because I wanted to actually spend time and live in another country for an extended period of time. It was just a dream, though, until early into the spring of my sophomore year. If I was going to study abroad, it had to be during my junior year. With my major and my class schedule, it would work best for me to go my junior year, and I knew that I wouldn’t have a better time to do so later in my life.

I was especially inspired to study abroad for a semester when my cousin decided to go to Berlin and Amsterdam during the fall of this year. She’s there now, and she’s living her best life. She’s always sending my wonderful pictures and talking about the amazing experiences she’s getting. That more than ever made me realize that I had to go study abroad, because it truly would be an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

I’ve been asked a lot why I don’t just go abroad over the summer or just take a vacation, and I’ve come to realize that although that would still be awesome and a great experience, I would be even more fulfilled if I could actually live by myself in another country. Just thinking about it now terrifies me.

After meeting with Tanya Newkirk and doing a plentiful amount of research, I decided that I’m going to study abroad at the University of Limerick in Ireland next semester. The thought that I’ll be all by myself in a completely foreign country still has me questioning my life choices, but I know that it will be awesome.

In choosing where I wanted to go in Europe, I started off with three places: Ireland, England, and Italy. After looking into the different programs for each of those countries, I decided to use API (Academic Programs International) because of the housing options and prices, as well as the included excursions and the good reviews about each program. I’m the first student to study abroad through API at Millsaps, and I think it’s going to be incredible. After I chose API, I looked at each of the schools in each of the three countries that API had programs with.

I decided on the University of Limerick due to the multiple options for my double majors, Communications and Literature in English. The other schools didn’t have as many classes for those majors, and I want to receive credit for my courses while I’m abroad.

I am sad to leave all of my friends, but I know this is going to be one of the coolest things I’ll probably ever do in college. Millsaps gives students fantastic opportunities to study abroad, and for some reason people don’t take advantage of all of the connections Millsaps has as much as they should. Many students go to the Yucatan or to summer classes in Europe and Asia, but a lot of people forget that there are other options to.

If you have any yearn to study abroad in the slightest, I suggest learning more about it. If you want to travel and explore places out of the United States, for a few weeks or even a whole term, then this would be the perfect thing for you.

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