After spending some time looking closely at different study abroad possibilities, what do you want to do and why? Has your mind changed since you applied for this program? How and why (or why not)?
I entered the University of Oklahoma, and specifically the Global Engagement Fellowship, with a specific idea of where I wanted to travel. The Netherlands for a summer, France for a semester, Morocco for a summer and a yet-to-be-determined Arabic speaking country for a year. When I arrived, I heard lots of people talking about keeping an open mind or taking advantage of opportunities to go to more “exotic” places. But when I focus on my particular interests and on the bigger picture of my academic career, I realize that the road map I had imagined for my studies abroad does not need to shift or be swayed.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been teaching myself Dutch. I really fell in love with the language, and would love to be able to use and improve my knowledge of it. OU has an affiliate program in Utrecht, at the Utrecht Summer School, that offers Dutch classes and some very appealing art courses. The more I learn about Dutch culture, the more I can see myself spending a summer there.
I’ve been studying French since I began high school, and I’ve wanted to learn it almost as long as I can remember. I want to use French in daily life. To spend a semester in France, however, I needed the program to offer Arabic language classes and linguistics classes, preferably in French. Thankfully, Bordeaux Montaigne University offers both such courses.
I did not expect to study Arabic in college, but the opportunity of a flagship program was too good to pass up, no matter what the language. However, once I began learning more about Arab culture and anticipating my classes, I became very excited at the prospect of being able to use the language to access the culture. Now that classes have started, I am enjoying the language incredibly. To the best of my knowledge, the Arabic Flagship program requires a summer and a year to be spent studying Arabic, most likely in Morocco. At this point, I expect one or both of these experiences to be in Morocco.
As you can see, I have a busy few years ahead of me. I still need to talk to the various regional advisors to nail down the details and make sure that my plans are as grounded in reality as I think they are. But from my current vantage point, my many destinations are along the road ahead.