Study Abroad Opportunities

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Photo by Chris Lawton

Norway - Belize - Vietnam

 

Throughout this summer, Mayville State has been broadening its horizons.

 

Students have had the opportunity to travel to the countries of Japan and Belize and experience diversity at its finest. Jordan Burgau, a nursing major who embarked on the journey to Belize, was interviewed and shared a little bit about her trip.


· Why did you choose to partake in this experience?

I have always enjoyed experiencing new cultures and traveling. Taking a vacation in a unique place does not mean you get to truly understand the culture and the daily life of another person. Having an opportunity like this may never come again so I had a strong desire to take it and enjoy experiences that I may never have in any other way and work with people. 

· What is your favorite memory from your trip?

It’s truly hard to pick one favorite memory, as there were many at the top of my list. I think one of the best times was swimming through the cave at Blue Creek. It’s a little scary to plunge into the water of a dark cave with only a headlight, but it was truly incredible and I’m glad all of us had the courage to go, as the sights were incredible!

· What was most surprising part about Belize and its culture?

One of the most surprising things about the culture is how friendly and close the people are. I know in Central America it’s common to have large families living together and taking care of their elderly. It’s true in Belize, and they will truly open up their doors to anyone. The house I stayed in had constant traffic of friends and family and they will give you anything you need even if it could mean putting them out. Even walking around town, people will greet everything as they walk by. It was great to be around such happy people.

· How will this experience affect your future career?

As a nurse, I care for a lot of different cultures and sometimes that means different views of how care should be provided. I feel this experience has opened my eyes to a different way of living, and will make it easier to respect different cultures, even though there may be conflicting personal views. I think I have more of a passion in understanding different views rather than changing them.

· What would you tell other students who are interested in going on one of these trips?

Take this opportunity! It’s truly an opportunity to enlighten and grow as a person and you may take away moments that will stay with you for the rest of your life. You will never regret seeing the beauty of another country and the relationships you may build with other people. The organizers of this trip will provide you with experiences you could never have on your own. Stay open-minded and take it all in!


Megan Maassel's Trip Experience in Japan


· Why did you choose to partake in this experience?

Well, I will say that it was kind of selfish motive when I first thought about the experience. Japan has been one of the countries where I have always wanted to visit and I am an extremely nerdy person. Anime and Manga, two of Japan’s main pop culture exports, are a part of my general nerd being. The other part of my motive was to experience a different education system. I wanted to see how much of an emphasis there is on education in a country that can be considered a stark contrast to the United States. I feel like it is important for me, as a teacher, to see different types of diversity. That’s some of why I decided to try because we weren’t even sure whether we would get the funding at first.

· What is your favorite memory from your trip?

I’ll have to say the elementary school. When you enter a classroom space, it kind of fills you with a sort of enthusiasm and sort of strive to learn. It was a different feeling than when I would go into the observations throughout my coursework. I always get pumped up for observations, but it is a different sort of thrill. It was also hilarious for me to be so full of energy, while my fellow researchers and professors were exhausted halfway through the day. I guess it shows how comfortable I was with the kids. At the end of our experience, I had taught some of the kids some games that I would play with the students I worked with back here. It was so much fun to teach and to be called Megan-Sensei.

· What was most surprising part about Japan and its culture?

Well, everything was at first, because it was so new and different from what I was used to, but what I was surprised by the most were two things. The first was the recycling aspect of Japan. Everything is recycled and their green footprint is very small. Dividing up trash was very complex at first, but it became easier over time. The second would be how safe Japan is. I would see groups of elementary students take the train to get to their school, cram schools, after school activities, you name it. It was so surprising to see how the students are safe and carefree while traversing across the countryside.

· How will this experience affect your future career as an educator?

It has opened my eyes to all the different avenues I could go as a teacher. As part of the philosophy of being a lifelong learner, I think teachers needs to expand their types of learning. I think that I will be looking at different situations in which I can explore and expand what I learn and what I teach.

· What would you tell other students who are interested in going on one of these trips?

Do it, it is so worth it. You think that you wouldn’t feel comfortable and that there are other people better suited for it, but that thought process should just be banished from your head because you can do it. You will find that you could do more than you originally thought. Right now, your worldview is very small. Go expand upon it.