Most college students pick their university and spend their four or five years solely learning there. Finding being away from home to be enough of an adventure, when they could use their university resources and learn in other country. One Bloomsburg University student did just that as she traveled half way around the world to learn and teach in a whole other country.
Many students take a semester or a summer to travel abroad and embrace themselves in another culture while still receiving credits. They get to not only learn about how another group of people live their lives, but they get to take classes and learn in a new environment.
Lauren Kelly, 20, a junior at Bloomsburg University is one of the students who expanded her opportunities and studied abroad. She says after becoming interested in the idea of learning outside the country she went to the study abroad office to see what her options were. Her hopes were set on Australia but she learned she couldn’t travel there with the classes she wanted to take.
“The women then suggested I go on the summer abroad trip to Africa, because I’m a education major and there was a group of education majors traveling there for the summer. The idea of going somewhere so different sparked my interest and I decided this was the trip for me because when would I get another chance to go to Africa,” said Kelly.
Kelly flips through photos of her trip remembering her first thoughts where it was going to be a great experience to teach children in a different country and she would also learn a lot from them as well.
The trip would consist of traveling to two main countries, Cameroon and Ethiopia, then within those countries Kelly traveled to seven different regions. The whole trip was mapped out and the activities for each day were planned for their month and a half journey.
Kelly says the preparation for the trip was a lot of work. She had to get plenty of paper work done and she had to receive numerous shots because she was leaving the country. She also needed to make sure she had Visas for everyplace they would be traveling and the money that was used in that place as well.
Once the group arrived in Africa their daily activities were getting up at 7 a.m. for breakfast then traveling to the schools where they would teach.
“The schools were very different from ours today. They had no lights, the only light they had was open doors and windows. The school was made out of concrete; there were no decorations and learning tools around the room it was very bare. The only things they did have hanging from the walls were homemade signs that the teacher would have had made. The seats were wooden and most of the chairs were broken and the children were forced to sit on the floor. There was only one chalkboard with a limited amount of chalk as school supplies were limited and they did not have schoolbooks or work books. Everything they learned they needed to write down. One of the interesting things was that learning was very hands on and they learned a lot from the environment. The children learned how to cook and take care of the land. Also they were taught about AIDS at the very young age,” Kelly explains showing photos of the rooms.
After teaching, Kelly says the group went to lunch where they were offered chicken or fish with a side of rice and a vegetable. After eating the same thing for more then a month Kelly says the food was hard to consume because there was no variety. After lunch the group would then go to their own classes. Kelly describes her multicultural class as being very hands on. They learned how African and American culture compared and also had the chance to talk with students from the university there. The day was finished with us having free time where the group would explore the surrounding city and a chance to eat dinner and catch up on schoolwork.
Kelly says her experience showed her that Americans take a lot of things for granted like a warm shower and even running water or something as simple as a pencil.
“The trips made me have more respect for my parents with everything they do for me and just how lucky I am for the simple things in life. The memories I made over there, like having the kids run up to me and hug and sing when I entered were unforgettable, “ she explains.
Bloomsburg University offers tons of abroad trips for its students and many of them are worth credits, such as Kelly’s, which was worth 9. All interested students have to do is visit the Study Aboard Office and find the trip that’s right for their needs.
“Bloomsburg did a great job. I thought the trip was very organized and well planned out. We also had timelines for everything we did to keep us on track and I really appreciated that,” says Kelly.
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