Reflecting on Life-Changing Study Abroad Experiences

(Nov. 4, 2019) – Every year, groups of USF St. Petersburg students pack their bags for a life-changing opportunity to travel and study abroad. USFSP offers a variety of study abroad programs—from ethics studies in Greece, Italy and England to cultural, politics and history in China. Led by University faculty members, these rewarding programs immerse students in foreign cultures, with the goal of fostering new perspectives and connections in an increasingly globalized world. 

We spoke to three students who studied abroad in 2019 to hear about their experiences with the people, places and cuisine around the world.

Chancellor’s Leadership Council China

Students from the Chancellor’s Leadership Council spent two weeks immersed in Chinese culture.

Emme Meyers, Mass Communications

I went on the Chancellor’s Leadership Council trip to China. We spent time in dorms at Beijing Jiaotong University in Weihai, and met with students who acted as our guides and translators. They helped immerse us into Chinese culture. 

We learned the basic alphabet and tones when speaking Mandarin, and learned a lot about China through everyday experiences. It wasn’t just sit-down learning. We visited food markets, which sometimes felt like being on a different planet. It was so interesting. We learned things like how to ask for prices and bargain, which is normal and even expected in Chinese culture.

I was born in China but I was adopted, came to the United States around 10 months old and never went back. I wanted to see where I came from. I saw that the CLC was sponsoring a trip to China and thought this was one of my only opportunities to go back, because planning your own trip to China can be daunting. 

Growing up as an Asian American, I wanted to fit into Western culture. I felt singled out. I did my best to look caucasian and did my makeup to blend in. I didn’t know much about my heritage. I never had an appreciation for where I came from until I went to China, learned these great things and saw how beautiful the country and people are. I brought home a sense of pride for myself. I’d never been proud to be Chinese until now. I’m so proud to be who I am.

Ethics and Power in Leadership study abroad

Students traveled through Greece, Italy, and the United Kingdom on the Ethics and Power in Leadership study abroad.

Haley Jordan, MBA program

I went on the Ethics and Power in Leadership program to Greece, Italy and the United Kingdom. We visited Athens, Florence, Rome and London. 

During the trip, we had class a couple times each week and took tours to spots related to the ethics philosophers we were studying. For example, we went to Jeremy Bentham’s preserved body in London. He was one of the fathers of utilitarianism. That was pretty interesting!

I was always interested in doing a study abroad. It can be hard to find the time later in life and I didn’t get to go during my undergraduate studies. Since this program was at first only offered to undergraduates, they put together an advanced syllabus for me and let me join. (USFSP will offer this same graduate program for students in 2020.)

The trip was an amazing opportunity. It’s so easy to get caught up in your day-to-day classwork, but if you can take some time out to study abroad, it’s really worth it because it broadens your horizons, you make lifelong friends and you see stuff you otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to. 

Another benefit is that it takes away the stress of having to plan a trip. If I was going to travel with a friend, it would have been much harder to figure out what to see and where to stay. Having a professor there as a guide helped me enjoy the experience and not have to worry about anything while I was abroad. 

Food and Travel Writing study abroad

Food and Travel Writing students spent two weeks exploring the culinary cultures of France and Germany.

Kamryn Elliot, Mass Communications

I went on the Food and Travel Writing study abroad program. We went to Heidelberg in Germany, and Strasbourg, Colmar and Paris in France. Before the trip, I’d never been outside of the country. I love learning about other cultures and love everything about food, but didn’t know anything about French or German cuisine.

While we were there we took classes on French and German food—how they prepare it and what types of food they eat. It’s very different than in the U.S. Food is such a big part of their culture!

There was a photography aspect as well. Professor Janet Keeler’s husband [a Tampa Bay Times photographer] came along and provided tips on photography. Along the way, I created Instagram stories for each country, which was my way of updating my family on what we did and where we were. The trip inspired me to do an internship with a food magazine next semester.

I met so many people during the program. Despite the language barriers, I made friends in both countries, and we still keep up with them on Facebook.

It was a wonderful experience. Although we took a course about culture shock, I was very comfortable in France and Germany, and quick to adjust when we got back. 

Interested in going abroad? Click here to learn more about how you can join an upcoming study abroad program.