Going abroad is always exciting. However, living abroad for a whole semester can be challenging, especially when one comes from a background where people fear that their values might change after staying away for a certain period. Learning about others’ experiences can then be helpful.
During spring 2019, Senior, Lois Bronaugh went to Vienna, Austria and Marburg, Germany, “looking forward to discovering something new and unique” in these two places. Although she was open-minded while being there, she still faced some struggles among which, her fear of speaking, worried people would change their behavior towards her once they knew she was not a native German because of her accent. “They would either put me aside or try to accommodate to me by speaking English,” she explained.
Bronaugh also had to deal with a certain pressure when talking. She would sometimes speak slowly because she had to make sure that her words clearly expressed what she had in mind in order to avoid saying something that has a different connotation in Germany or Austria.
She mentioned that her time abroad humbled her regarding her ability to speak German. “I used to think I aced at speaking German but I realized that I have more to learn” Bronaugh also added that through this experience, she had a better understanding of the difference between a native speaker of a language and someone who is just fluent in it and of the importance of multilingualism (use of more than one language) not only for the learner but also for the native speaker. “It amazed me to see people who speak Finnish, Slovene, and Polish as their first language being happy because I made efforts to learn words in their native language” she explained, showing then how speaking someone’s language can be significant for them.
Although her experience abroad has gotten her some new perspective on life, Bronaugh affirms that she is still the same person she was before traveling.
To anyone considering or in the process of going abroad, Bronaugh said, “when you travel, put in mind that a different country means different cultures and customs. You cannot expect everybody to act or think as you might expect. Try to be as open as possible to changes. Be adventurous, be considerate, make an effort to identify with people and enjoy experiences that you like, whether abroad or even at home.”
The Study Abroad office in WCC 254 is opened to anyone who has a question regarding the process through which Bronaugh, like other students who studied abroad, went through.
Students can also schedule an appointment by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Study Abroad webpage (under “Program Provider Partners”).