“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Emerson, with this quote, thoroughly explains the intrigue, adventure and excitement that accompanies most students that decide to pursue a study abroad program. One such student is junior Accounting and Finance major and Spanish minor Sarah Kuhn. She currently studying abroad in Granada, Spain through the opportunities offered to each student and major through the Grove City College Office of International Education (OIE). I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with her in between her international adventures to ask her a few questions about her experiences so far, her international insights, as well as her advice to those looking to pursue a study abroad program.
How was the planning process of choosing and applying for a program? Do you have any advice after your successful planning experience?
“Planning to study abroad is not a difficult experience. As long as you have the required packets and paperwork and some organizational skills, you will be able to figure it out. If studying abroad is important to you, then that is enough motivation to be able to make it happen. Also, the OIE is more than willing to help you with any problems or questions. I would advise that those wanting to study abroad do some research about classes and credits both at Grove City and in their desired program to make sure that they will transfer. It also helps to take Humanities courses earlier rather than later, because those classes will not transfer from abroad. It may help to plan out your courses ahead of time so that you are prepared.”
How has studying abroad changed your perspective on things like life, education, etc.?
“It had really shown be how big the world is. It has been such an eye-opening experience to be surrounded by so many students who are not Christian and to observe how they approach the world, art, travel, education, and the beauty of Creation. It makes me think of my understanding and learning through classes like Speculative Mind and Civ Arts.”
What has been the best part about studying abroad so far?
“The best part overall has been the opportunity to see things in person that I never imagined really existed. It’s been so amazing to see vague and intangible things that I’ve only learned about becoming real, like Europe itself and works of art. I recently traveled to the beach and was able to experience the Mediterranean Sea for the first time, which was pretty special.”
What is your favorite thing about living in Spain?
“I’ve really enjoyed the opportunities to practice and learn more Spanish. That was really important to me, and a big part of why I decided to study abroad. I’ve loved being in Spanish classes, conversing with professors and asking questions that I was able to apply to my life directly outside of the classroom in a real-life setting. I’ve loved learning about the culture and the different dialects within Spain. The culture is so diverse and there’s so much I still don’t know, and I think that is really cool.”
What are the biggest differences that you have seen between Europe and America?
“Mostly, I have noticed how much more secular Europe is in comparison to the United States. Many times over the months I’ve been here, I have been able to share and explain the gospel with people who really didn’t have any idea what Christianity is all about. I’ve noticed that Americans tend to have such a small scope of perspective, and that studying abroad highlights the range of that scope in different ways. People in Europe are much more culturally aware than Americans, and speak more language and have a better understanding of more cultures outside their own.”
Anything else you’d like to share?
“I am surprised how few people studied abroad from Grove City this semester, only 13! If you choose the right program and plan it right, studying abroad (flights included) can cost less than a semester at the College. Also, studying abroad has made me so thankful for Grove City College’s community, their strong Christian education, and formative classes. I am so lucky to have a Grove City College education as a base so that I can succeed wherever I am in the world, and to be able to use what I learn as well.”
Sarah Kuhn is forging her own path abroad, and surely Emerson would be proud. Her experiences and insights will add so much diversity and culture to Grove City College, as does every student that studies abroad. Choosing the path abroad can lead to a discovery of culture, faith, self and so much more, and the OIE helps make those dreams a reality for Grove City College students. So it has been said, and can be applied to those seeking an abroad adventure, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”