Study Abroad is Furman’s Hidden Gem

Remember when I told you my blog posts would be nostalgic? Yeah well one of those moments is coming at ya live here on the blog. One of my favorite parts about Furman is your ability to leave it all behind and see the world through study away!!! Nothing makes you realize how big, exciting, and full of opportunity this world is until you are able to live in a vastly different part of it. While I’ve been at Furman, I’ve been able to study away both on a semester program and a MayExperience (we call this MayX).

BUT FIRST- what is the difference between a semester program and a MayExperience you ask?! Well, a semester program is exactly what it sounds like. For the duration of the semester, you will be studying away from campus. The MayExperience is a shortened version of studying away. Instead of an entire semester away from campus, you’ll leave on the program after the end of the spring semester and travel for the duration of May. This usually lasts 3-4 weeks, and is a great alternative for students that don’t want to leave our campus community for an entire semester, or for students that can’t leave because of varsity sports. Here’s a little bit more about the study away trips I’ve taken!

MayX: Japanese Architecture and Living Spaces

The summer after my sophomore year I joined Dr. Yagi and a group of Furman students in Japan to study Japanese Architecture and the cultural and religion influences we see in Japanese spaces. I have always been fascinated by Japanese culture, but never had the time in my schedule to fit Asian Studies courses into one of my semesters. So, I took this MayX as an opportunity to try something new and step out of my comfort zone! It was also an incredible experience because I was born in Yokosuka, Japan, and had not been back since I was a kid. Experiencing where my parents lived in my young childhood was so special, and learning about the culture along the way from one of our native Japanese professors really made it an unforgettable experience.

The Japanese are known for their gardens, and they really do not disappoint!
This is the Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima. It was a BEAUTIFUL day and a great escape from the cities we had been visiting the previous days.

Semester: Brussels Internship Program

Fall of my junior year I lived, studied, and worked in Brussels, Belgium. It was an incredible experience because I was immersed in European life in so many different ways. The program was with other Furman students and two faculty members, and we all studied studied at an international university called Vesalius College. Our classmates were from all over the world: different parts of Europe, the US, South America, and more. We also worked part-time at an internship that matched our professional interests. Because I’m a public health major, I worked at the European Health Management Association, a health policy NGO two blocks from the European Parliament. And if that wasn’t immersive enough, we traveled on the weekends, both through travel-study trips planned by our professors and trips that we planned independently. Some of my favorite weekend excursions were to Hungary and Italy!

These were a few Furman friends that joined me on a trip to Budapest, Hungary! I have Hungarian heritage in my family, so it was really cool to experience Hungarian culture after hearing about it from my grandparents.
This is Cate and I in La Spezia, Italy! We were roommates in Brussels and decided to take our Spring Break trip together to the Italian coast.

These study away trips took me to places and gave me experiences I couldn’t have had on my own. It is also incredible to be able to become close to your peers at Furman in a very different context and bring those friendships back to campus at the end of it all. I miss it and all of the travel really left me wanting to see even more of the world. Who knows, maybe whatever I end up pursuing after graduation will give me the ability to travel more!

Until next time,

Colleen

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