‘I have changed in a million ways’: A Baylor student’s study abroad experience
More than 600 Baylor students are spending their summers studying abroad; some in exchange/affiliate programs, traveling independently to a host university and taking classes from that school’s professors, others in university-led programs, learning alongside Baylor classmates from a Baylor professor.
It was one of the latter programs, “Baylor in Maastricht,” that captivated senior University Scholar major Rachel Wells this past spring. Wells and about 50 Baylor classmates spent three months studying in the Netherlands; I just spent the last two hours engrossed in her blog, which captures a great deal of the experience in both words and exquisite photographs, primarily of the weekend trips living in the heart of Europe affords — cities such as Budapest, Salzburg, Berlin, Dublin, Prague, London (pictured above), Edinburgh, Brussels and Amsterdam are little more than a train ride away.
It’s enlightening and encouraging to read about how seeing so much of a different part of the world and living in the midst of it for an extended period opens the eyes of Baylor students like Wells. Here are a few brief excerpts from her blog:
“I have learned so much in my classes this semester, including how much I really do enjoy class, learning, school, education, and all that jazz. The material in my classes this semester has been fascinating, and the Dutch perspective has been truly eye-opening. I’ve learned that in order to understand someone’s motives and choices, you have to get their cultural context. Instead of looking at the world from my own perspective, as is natural, I need to empathetically look at how others see the world to understand their choices and accept them. …
“Being here with 50 other Baylor students who I have gotten to know and live in community with has been incredible. I have formed friendships with incredible Christ-followers who have built me up and taught me more about God and helped me grow into myself, all of whom go to the same school as I do, but I likely never would have met them otherwise. I know that the strong relationships I have built with these people will stay with me as we all return to Baylor because they have been such an essential part of my growth and development and have loved me through all the stress and craziness of traveling. I have made friendships that will last me a lifetime. …
“I have discovered that my identity as an American runs deeper than where I come from. The way I think is completely American. … I could go into detail about all the interesting things I have learned about different perspectives and philosophies and how they shape culture and how to look at the rest of the world, but I will simply say that I have been blown away with how narrow my worldview is, just because I have lived in America my whole life. … It is amazing to discover how much more is out there, to see and learn and embrace what the rest of the world has to offer. I’m not the same person I was before I left. I don’t see the world around me the same way anymore. …
“I have changed in a million ways this semester. From appreciating art and history in ways that I never thought possible, to seeing reasons to worship God in everything and responding with praise daily, to learning to love myself thanks to indescribably wonderful best friends I have made, I hope you don’t expect me to come home the same person. … All I can say is go see for yourself.”
To learn more about Baylor’s study abroad offerings, click here. Information sessions are held almost every week throughout the school year, and a special study abroad fair is scheduled for Sept. 24 during Dr Pepper Hour in the SUB (mark your calendar now).
Sic ’em, Baylor study abroad participants!
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