Editor’s Note

After attending and sometimes helping facilitate multiple orientation and informational sessions throughout campus as a representative for Study Abroad, I can recall one question in particular always being asked: “What if I want to go somewhere else? Somewhere not presented through the CBU program?” My answer to this is simple…do it.

While our program is an insightful overview for those who have never been out of the country, I would never want students to feel limited to just those opportunities presented to them. As a senior headed to Washington, DC for graduate school, I have definitely become more cognizant of how competitive our society has become. Because of this increased attitude of determination and eagerness, young adults are surpassing all comfort zones, reaching for prospects on their own accord.

I remember I had the previous question on my mind my freshman year of college. I knew I wanted to travel more, as I had recently become passionate about exploration of cultures outside my own. Therefore, I came by the Study Abroad office and quickly signed on for a trip to Italy the following May.

However, one day when I was reading the CBU Connection (Yes, I actually read the Connection, and you should too for the exact reason I am about to tell you), I came across the tiniest of announcements that read “GYC Rwanda Application due soon” with a link attached. I’m not going to lie — I did not even know where Rwanda was on a map, but for this fact alone I was intrigued. To spare unnecessary details, I ended up applying, got accepted, and was the youngest member of the three-week summer delegation. Although there is no way to truly express how this experience forever altered me as a person within this newsletter, I can provide a hint with my opening paragraph of my Statement of Purpose for graduate school:

“After walking away from my interview with the Mayor of Karongi, Rwanda, a burning sensation ignited within my chest; when asked about the abhorrent conditions of the Potter’s Community, he had simply stated, ‘The problem of Karongi is not a priority… their problems are not our problems.’ It was then, the summer after my freshman year of college, that I knew that I must never have this mindset. With our world becoming more globalized faster than Apple can produce the newest version of the iPhone, our problems are no longer defined by boundaries or geographical borders. Furthermore, my passions are driven by experiences not limited by the mighty Mississippi or the Mason Dixon Line; my fervor is capitalized by tenacious curiosity, underlined by a firm belief in human rights, and emboldened by a yearning to always take the road less traveled. A young Anne Frank once wrote, ‘How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.’”

Needless to say, I caught the fever for fieldwork in third-world countries, particularly ones stricken by genocide and war crimes. I then turned to the most time efficient, informative source every college student would attribute his degree to: Google. I began searching adamantly for volunteer programs, intern scholarships, or perhaps other academic outlets to travel. The summer after my sophomore year I found myself on a plane to Cambodia for six weeks volunteering with a local NGO through IVHQ.

Both of these “outside” involvements helped develop not only my characteristics as a person but also my career path after graduation as much as the CBU curriculum has prepared me. Like the modest GYC announcement, there are chances throughout our campus that do not receive as much visual traffic. I challenge you to read the flyers, read the emails, read the communicative forms freely presented. I always tell freshmen, “What you will get out of college is positively correlated to the amount of effort you put in.”

So, put in the extra effort. It’s okay to think outside the box; the encouraging professors and faculty here would tell you it is preferred! It took me a little bit to research programs, distinguishing those that I thought were legitimate, filling out applications, and taking the necessary actions to prepare for the trip, but how worth it it was.

But because I know what it is like to be a busy college student, here are some of what I have found to be the best international programs if you are eager to go somewhere else besides Europe or Mexico:

  1. ivhq.org
  2. globalyouthconnect.org
  3. crossculturalsolutions.org

Addendum: Ironically, no one at CBU knew anything about Global Youth Connect so how it ended up in the Connection is still a mystery to me. I like to attribute this situation to perfect timing.

— Melanie Horne

Editor’s Note

by Melanie Horne 

blue-grotto

The Blue Grotto

I am often flooded with questions about my experiences abroad. Therefore, I thought I would include a journal entry from my time spent in Italy this past summer. While it is impossible to gain as much insight from reading versus firsthand experience, I hope this opens your mind and broadens your awareness of the world outside our own.

Friday, June 21, 2013
“I had been looking forward to visiting the Amalfi Coast all month. Some say it’s always necessary to take a little vacation for a vacation. Driving into the Province of Salerno, I was unaware that it is the second most populated region in Italy. Judging from the location, I figured these islands became pertinent for their coastal trading. Yet, why is it that this particular coast is more famous than any other in the country? After some research, I found that the Amalfi Coast was actually popularized by a single fan — the writer John Steinbeck published a short story/article entitled ‘Positano’ in Harper’s Bazaar in 1953 and made everyone aware of its coastal splendor.

The highlight of my weekend was a trip to the Blue Grotto (Grotto Azzura). From our tour boat, we were transferred to a smaller rowboat, only seating five people. The rowers instructed us to literally lie down in the canoe-like construction. I soon realized the reason for this extreme precaution.

Upon the arrival to the Grotto, one could only enter and exit through a minuscule entryway — so small that the rowers had to lean back, held up only by the support of a chain that helped reel us into the cave. Once inside, I didn’t even notice the surrounding boats or the close proximity of the cave walls. The piercing blue color ignited within the depths of the water is a mystery to the senses. How can something this beautiful be hidden within the confines of a mountain?

Our rower allowed us to “fall out of the boat,” letting us dive into this earthly wonder. While wading, between bursts of thrill and adrenaline, pangs of guilt also came to mind. I too had just succumbed to a wave of tourist influence, obstructing the grotto’s natural beauty for the envied experience of saying I had left my mark. I suppose I can blame Christopher Columbus for this idea.”

Editor’s Note

301754_10151781049475363_993205704_nAs a rising senior, I have recently been asked one particular question on multiple occasions, “Knowing what you know now, what would be your advice for incoming freshmen?” While I would not change anything about my wonderful college experience, I can certainly think of some things I wish I would have known sooner. As a world traveler myself, here are some travel tips that would have made my first journeys that much easier:

1. Never wait until the night before to pack. I don’t care how many times you tell yourself you will “start packing tomorrow”, you won’t. Save yourself the headache; as soon as you think to pack something, do it…item by item.

2. If at all possible, limit your luggage to one bag and one carry on. If you can’t limit it to these two, reduce what you’re packing. I’m always amazed by these sturdy business men adorned in their tailored suits, followed by the smallest suitcase possible. I imagine it’s something out of Mary Poppins; as soon as you open it there is infinite space for everything one could possibly need.

3. Really like those Vera Bradley or Nike Duffels? You won’t anymore after having to lug it through various airports and security checkpoints. Bags with wheels are so much more beneficial than they are given credit for. A wise man once said, “How could we send a man to space before having invented a suitcase with wheels?”

4. Speaking of airport security, I don’t care how tired you are or how early or late your flight is, be friendly to officials. Border control officers do not get sarcasm. Your journey can go so much more smoothly if you just smile and show them a little of that “southern hospitality.”

5. Plan your time. The key is knowing your airports. For example, I cannot tell you how many times I have been told to arrive 2-3 hours early for an international flight. While 2 hours is about the time it takes to get from the ticket counter to a gate at Washington Dulles, Memphis airport is about the size of Mud Island in comparison. So, while I’m not saying to arrive at the last minute, I advise to not be too conservative with your time (unless you want to browse Twitter for hours waiting for your boarding call).

5. Always check-in online, print your boarding pass, and choose your seat in advance. (Window seats are the best sleepers; aisle seats have the best leg room). I cannot stress how much of a time saver this is the day of your flight.

6. Whatever you are doing, wherever you are, bring snacks. If you love food as much as I do, nothing can go wrong with this precaution.

7. In regards to food, please for the love of everything diverse, do not set foot into a McDonalds or any fast food joint for that matter when traveling. Always hit up a local café or restaurant. “But Melanie, I am a college student. The cheaper the better!” I understand, I really do. In Cambodia, my dinner cost all of $2; while in Europe, one can get a decent culturally acceptable breakfast for as little as 5 euros. Be creative. Your beloved Spicy McChicken will still be here to greet you upon your return.

8. It is inevitable that you will forget to pack something. Just take a moment to accept this reality now and move on. Let’s just pray it isn’t your medication.

9. ALWAYS attempt to speak the local language. Neither I nor the locals will care how much you butcher it; they will most likely be amused at your efforts. You would be surprised how many people don’t even try to immerse themselves into the culture in which THEY are the visitors. Long story short, manners are universal. Use them. Plus your mother would be SO proud.

10. Just like you would research to write that ten page paper, research your top sights you want to see, or that local restaurant that received rave reviews on Trip Advisor. However, if you aren’t feeling quite that motivated, I promise there will be some “hole-in-the-wall” treasures you will stumble upon when abroad. Just don’t be afraid to be a tourist in your first weeks. (That’s the reason you’re even traveling, right?!)

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While these don’t cover everything, I’ll leave you with the most basic, applicable advice I can possibly think of…Be open-minded,flexible, and fearless. When abroad, you can be whomever you want to be.

- Melanie Horne, Psychology ’14