Travel abroad students share experience, advice

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, students have been limited in study abroad opportunities. Over the past year though, limitations on traveling have decreased, and the world is beginning to open up to tourists again. 

“Spring semester still had vaccine requirements, negative COVID tests for some locations, some locations had quarantine that was required once you arrived on the ground,” Erin Kane, Augustana’s associate director of international programs, said. “By summer, those were all gone.”

Over the past semester and summer, Augustana students have started travelling abroad again after some borders shutdown.

Isabelle Thorson

Isabelle Thorson is a senior majoring in communications, business and international studies with a minor in French. She completed eight courses in Grenoble, France, during the spring semester.

What was your favorite memory during your time there?

I loved walking on the streets of my town, Grenoble, like seeing the moon and seeing the outlines of mountains and just having time to just be. It was just beautiful. 

What advice would you give to someone doing your same program?

There are a lot of roadblocks that come with studying abroad that sometimes make you want to stop pursuing it or to give up or stop the process just because it is overwhelming. The entire process is exhausting and hard, and there are many lonely times and difficult times that sometimes feel like, “Wow, is this all it is?” It’s hard, but it gets better. It’s really worth it. It really is. 

What did you learn from your experience?

Being able to be okay by yourself is something that’s important for everybody, and everybody should experience being okay by yourself and being okay with traveling by yourself. There are crevices in the world that you might not experience if you go in a group. Learn that it’s okay to be by yourself, and that sometimes strangers have the coolest stories to tell you if you’re willing to listen.

Janai Crawford

Janai Crawford is a senior majoring in exercise science and is working towards a Master of Science in athletic training. She completed an internship in Melbourne, Australia, for eight weeks this past summer. 

What is one touristy thing you did that was totally worth it?

Pictures will never do the Great Barrier Reef justice.

What was your favorite memory during your time there?

My favorite experience would have to be camping in Uluru. A group of six of us interns rented two tents and six sleeping bags, boarded a plane and camped in the outback. We hiked, walked through the Field of Light and went stargazing every night. I learned so much on these tours about Australia’s history and indigenous cultures and explored the truly magnificent landscape. 

What advice would you give to someone doing your same program?

Apply for scholarships. If you keep a running document of your responses to questions, you will find that you only need to tweak them a little for each application. These allowed me to do as much exploring as I did.

Annaliese Wagers

Annaliese Wagers is a sophomore  government and international affairs and languages, literatures and cultures double major. She completed an intensive German program in Berlin, Germany, for six weeks this summer.

What is one touristy thing you did that was totally worth it?

Probably going to Museum Island in Berlin. There’s a bunch of these really old museums, and they’re all contained within the island. I went there with my friends, and it was absolutely phenomenal. 

What was your favorite memory during your time there?

It was probably after class when we would all go to a park or a beer garden and hang out and just talk. Because it was such a small class, there was a wide variety of people who all had very different experiences, so that was probably one of my favorite things.

What advice would you give to someone doing your same program?

Commit to the time studying, and make sure that they don’t try to switch to English whenever they can. Commit to the German side of it and the language. Also, going in with no expectations, because then you can say, no matter what, it was better than what you expected.

Liz Fossum

Liz Fossum is a junior majoring in communications, media studies and international studies. She studied in Rome, Italy, for the spring semester and stayed an extra month backpacking.

Did you travel anywhere else while you were there?

I think I traveled to twelve different countries when I was there. So I went to Zürich in Switzerland and Florence, Italy. We went to Sicily, Italy, for a weekend, then we went to Lisbon, Barcelona, and London. I went to Berlin, and then I ended up going to Athens and Santorini. Then, on my backpacking trip, I went to France, including Paris and Nice. Then I revisited some other places and Venice, Italy too.

What was your favorite memory during your time there?

So my program had about twenty other students, and every Tuesday, to embrace our Americanness, we would have a taco Tuesday night at one of our friends’ apartments, and it was just the most fun. Yes, I lived in Italy and ate great food, but making tacos and eating them with the people in my program, those will be the moments I remember forever.

What did you learn from your experience?

I really learned a sense of independence. I would say that was my favorite thing I took away. I’d take three-hour walks around Rome and look at new sites all by myself, and I was so content with that.

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