How studying abroad enhanced my undergraduate experience.
Growing up in Atlanta, I knew for as long as I can remember that I wanted to go to Emory. However, I also knew I wanted to explore the world and staying in Atlanta felt like staying in my comfort zone. Studying abroad allowed me to pick both of these options. I have been lucky enough to participate in the NBB (Neuroscinece and Behavioral Biollogy) in Paris program, and I am currently doing a year abroad at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.
Before the NBB in Paris program, I had never left the US, so I was extremely excited to take advantage of this opportunity. The program sends two Emory professors and around twenty Emory students to Paris each summer. I felt like the highly structured program was perfect for my first time out of the country and it provided me with an amazing experience. Some of my best experiences in Paris were excursions that were included in the program – a trip to Provence, seeing Pont du Gard, picnics by the Eiffel Tower, and going to Monet’s Garden. The program allowed me to experience Paris in a way that I never would have on my own, and if I were to go back in time, I would definitely make the same choice again.
My year abroad in Scotland has been a very different experience. It started off as a semester abroad as I wasn’t sure how much I would like it. I had never visited St Andrews or even Scotland beforehand. I remember freaking out to my mom right before I moved in because I was terrified of what was to come; I had no idea what to expect and I didn’t know anyone who was coming here. However, as always some of life’s scariest decisions turn out to be the best ones. I ended up making an amazing group of friends, participating in some ridiculously fun St Andrews traditions, and extending my stay. One of the many perks about choosing a program that allows you to be a student at a different institution, is that it gives you an opportunity to really immerse yourself in the culture and to make friends from both the country you’re studying in as well as other study abroad and international students from around the world.
Studying abroad has absolutely been the best part of my undergraduate experience. From taking day trips to various places to spending nights watching Netflix with my new friends and ordering food to be delivered. It hasn’t been perfect, there are days that I would want nothing more to go home. However, I wouldn’t give up the pier and beach walks, trips to bakeries and cafes, or all of the new friends I made for anything. Studying abroad has made the world and travel seem so much more accessible and I’m so glad I got to do it.
Jamie Maaskant 22C