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Study Abroad Highlights
Anna Davis, an Oklahoma City native and Oklahoma State University graduate student says that her first time leaving the United States was during her study abroad to Peru as an undergrad.
“I had everything planned perfectly, but I really knew nothing about traveling or living outside of the U.S," Davis said. "It surprised me how fast I was able to learn, adapt, and want to travel more once I had been abroad.”
Davis’ parents encouraged her to seek out travel and study abroad opportunities throughout her life. When it came time to choosing a university, study abroad became a large criteria in the decision-making.
“I had many people in my life who told me that [study abroad] opened up a lot of opportunities, so it was actually what my entire college career has centered on," Davis said. "I chose to go to OSU because of their study abroad program. I knew there were many countries to choose from, and it would be affordable. I loved learning languages and about different countries, so it just seemed like an obligatory thing that I would do in my life.”
Her continued interest in study abroad following her time in Peru led to her decision to participate in a program in Chengdu, China during the 2018 fall semester. While abroad, Davis gained unique perspectives and skills such as patience, adaptability and being more understanding.
Photo submitted by Anna Davis (right)
Graduate Student pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Teaching English as a Second Language through the College of Arts and Sciences
“Living abroad tests your patience so much because at first, everything is a challenge," Davis said. "From doing laundry, to buying food, to making friends, it all takes time, and it never goes how you might expect. In a new country, the way people communicate, get around town, teach, eat, and even have fun is vastly different than the way things are done in the United States. And from this, you can learn that there isn’t necessarily a “right” way or “normal” way of doing anything. If you pay attention, you can take what you like about these new ways, and you can make them a part of you.”
Photos submitted by Anna Davis
The skills and experiences that Davis gained during her time abroad had a direct impact on her academic and professional goals. Tangible skills, like learning a new language are highly sought after by future employers.
“Because I had been abroad and studied another language, I was easily accepted into my graduate program and offered another opportunity to go abroad, "Davis said. "I would not be teaching in China if I had not studied in Peru because the skills I gained transferred directly to my next abroad experience. I will soon be applying for jobs, and I know that my study abroad experiences will give me an advantage in the job market.”
Studying abroad has also given Davis the opportunity to visit incredible historical sites around the world, including Machu Picchu and the Great Wall of China.
“I know its cliché, but the best place I have visited so far was the Great Wall of China, but only because when I went, it was completely abandoned except for the group I was with," Davis said. "The leaves were changing colors for autumn, and it was getting cold, so the season for visiting the Great Wall was coming to an end. We took a two-day hike through the unrestored sections of the wall and it was incredible to wonder about the history of the wall and be so secluded from the Chinese city life. It is probably my favorite memory so far because I shared it with one of my best friends, Francesca, who is from Germany.”
Study abroad can have a large influence on post-graduation career goals. For Davis, her international experience is only just beginning as she continues to seek out opportunities to work abroad following graduation.
“After I graduate I hope to find a teaching job for either English as a second language or Spanish," Davis said. "I want to have a home base in the United States, but be able to teach abroad for a year or a semester at a time. I am also interested in working in university study abroad or international student offices because I am passionate about aiding students in having experiences like what I have had.”
Davis’ advice for other OSU students interested in studying abroad:
“Be open-minded. The way that you have been taught is not the only way to think about the world. Be open to changing your mind and yourself."
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