Three Pirates share their thoughts on how their education has been different since they started studying abroad.
Location: British Isles
Studying on the Whitworth British Isles Semester Program happens to be similar to a “choose your own adventure” experience. My education in the classroom varies drastically from my education while abroad. Each day I explore a foreign place and interact with people I may never see again. I transition between traipsing around old ruins of a Norman castle to roaming from room to room of a modern art exhibit. My education looks more like a constant tour with breaks where I am turned loose upon the unknown and told to choose what I want to explore, to learn about or whatever catches my eye. It is experiential in the extreme. I spend every minute experiencing a different culture than that of my origin and I must be observant to fully appreciate it. It requires a different discipline than typical classroom learning to experience and observe and then effectively process my experience and what it means to me. Lectures run for no more 30 minutes at most on any given day, yet education occurs constantly.
Location: New Zealand
Thus far, my educational experience in New Zealand has been highlighted not by time in the classroom, but by time with people and culture. I have made countless friends here in just two short weeks, both Kiwis and fellow Americans. The time that I have spent with them has yielded so much growth for my “self.” It is hard to put into words the value of spending time abroad. The culture here in NZ is similar to the culture in the States in many ways. People here are friendly, busy, educated. This trip has pushed me to my limits, teaching me to have patience when things don’t necessarily go my way. As far as classroom education, it is quite different here. Most classes are strongly lecture based, with a couple of papers and one test per semester. Perhaps it is just due to the larger size of Massey University, but classes are also less personal and hands-on than at Whitworth. I have only been in class for one week here, so I’m sure I will learn more, but our requirements and assignments are also a bit less clear than at Whitworth. For now, I’m just enjoying my experiences and drinking it all in here in the land of the Kiwi.
Location: Semester at Sea
It’s been four years now that my education has changed since leaving Madagascar for a better education in the United States. My education started in a classroom with small, hard wooden benches with a black board and chalk. I used to write down my lessons in my small colorful notebooks because we didn’t have the access or the means to buy books or a TI-84 for each student. Now that I am studying abroad with Semester at Sea, my education has changed even more from having an inland campus to studying on a ship in the middle of the ocean and continuing my learning experience in every country we visit. So far we have visited Hawaii, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Singapore and still have Burma or Myanmar, India, Mauritius, South Africa, Namibia, Morocco and England left to explore. Every port we have visited has been a new learning experience. I have come to educate myself through talking to the local people around me in each country and embracing the culture through religion, food and music rather than taking notes in my old notebook in my old classroom.