Study A’Blog

Students traveling abroad as part of VWC’s new Global Scholars Program utilize social media to share their experiences

By Stephanie Smaglo

Scott Westfall ’14 hiked through a rain forest and swam in the Great Barrier Reef. Carly Ciarochi ’14 stood in Saint Peter’s Square watching as white smoke billowed from the Sistine Chapel. In Morocco, Kaitlyn Dozier ’14 rode a camel for the first time in her life. This is just a small sampling of the many cultural experiences VWC’s first group of Global Scholars had as they embarked on international adventures during the spring 2013 semester.

In the last year, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, VWC’s Global Scholars Program has nearly doubled the number of semester abroad experiences for students. The award program generally covers costs associated with room, board, tuition, and incidentals and recipients are chosen through a competitive application and interview process. The three-year pilot program will continue through the 2014-2015 academic year, providing resources for at least 38 students to spend a semester abroad.

The spring 2013 Global Scholars kept blogs about their experiences, connecting them back home and keeping them active in their global community. Here are excerpts from some of the adventures they had along the way.

Blog content has been edited for clarity and space.

January 27
Discovering in Spain

Allison Dazey ’14, Business and Hispanic Studies
Studied at: Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Discovering in Spain

It’s hard to believe how much has gone on in just this first week. We’ve had orientation every day to learn about Madrid, the University, navigation, safety, and the different activities and volunteer opportunities that will be available this semester. It’s been great to taste the different foods, to get to know everyone, and to start speaking Spanish again. I really like my host and all of the students in my program. There are Spanish students from the University that have signed up to help us out and to attend all of our functions. Meeting Spaniards is essential to being immersed in the culture, so these students have been an amazing resource for us. We’ve had some great activities this week including a walking tour of the Chueca neighborhood where we got to see a building designed by Antoni Gaudí. Next we went to a tapas bar and had a short flamenco (dancing) lesson, followed by dinner and a show. Today I went with a group of people in our program to the Real Madrid v. Getafe soccer game. I feel like there is so much more to write about this week, but then I would be stuck at my computer instead of experiencing more of Madrid, so I’m going to try to keep my entries short, sweet, and weekly!

February 11
Connecting in Prague

Tempe Martens ’14, Business and Psychology
Internship: Holmes Place

Connecting in Prague

I had a great first day of my internship! My outfit looked great, I found the location easily, I was on time, and everyone was so nice. My internship is at an extremely nice and upscale fitness center (Holmes Place). It is beautiful, classy, trendy, and most important, friendly. I was met by my internship supervisor (IS), the head of marketing for the area, who showed me to our little lounge office (very posh) and introduced me to the two other women who manage the club’s marketing/digital promotions. She explained the annual marketing campaigns, current promotions, and what my main projects will be. I will be working on environmental scanning, research, and competitive analysis to see what kinds of campaigns are currently being used in the fitness and wellness industry, which are working best, and how we can use those ideas to create our own unique campaigns. One of the best parts about this internship is that I will usually be spending the mornings in the office, but will also be able to work from home half the time. This flexibility will allow me to use my afternoons to discover this wonderful city. My colleagues are kind, welcoming, and excited to have me. I think that I can be a great help to them, and I hope to present them with some great campaign ideas!

March 25
Engaging in Australia

Scott Westfall ’14, Psychology and Business
Studied at: University of Melbourne

Engaging in Australia

I have been in Australia for over a month now and cannot believe how fast my time here is going. I can honestly say I have grown leaps and bounds and have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams with life-changing experiences. One of the most influential experiences I’ve had so far was a free public lecture on “rethinking motivation” by world-renowned social psychologist Tory Higgins. He countered the classical hedonic theories of motivation, based on pleasure and pain, by adding another factor behind it: engagement. Unlike pain and pleasure –which give motivation, direction and intensity– engagement gives only intensity. I have never felt more engaged to learn, grow and explore. Since being in Australia, I have caught the travel bug. I want to see the world. I want to understand different cultures. I have been blessed in the past month to see penguins return to land after a day of fishing, go kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, scuba diving and bungee jumping. This week I am going to live with an Australian family, surf the gold coast, and visit Sydney. I am blessed I have the opportunity to do all these things and it is incredibly hard to find a way to not be engaged in these conditions.

April 7
Adventuring in Morocco

Kaitlyn Dozier ’14, Communication and Hispanic Studies
Studied at: La Universidad de Malaga

Adventuring in Morocco

I took a day trip from Spain to Morocco yesterday! So incredible. After a 3 a.m. bus ride to the city center, one hour procrastinating getting a cab, and a five-minute taxi ride to the police station meeting point, I was on a bus to Tarifa by 5 a.m.! Tarifa is a small town in the Cadiz region, at the very southernmost tip of Spain. You can see the Strait of Gibraltar and the city is only a few miles from Africa! Some of the day’s activities: riding a camel, touring the hills of Tangier, visiting a carpet and spice shop, having lunch at a traditional restaurant, watching a snake charmer perform, and of course, haggling souvenir prices on the streets. I got back to Malaga at 8 p.m. after an exhausting, but completely worth it, trip. I am realizing the values of travel, and how important it is to see with your own eyes the different lifestyles of people in other places. As citizens, we watch the news and read about foreign countries, but it takes being exposed firsthand to really have an impact. I am so grateful for this semester abroad. I have a new outlook on other cultures and lifestyles, and I am truly appreciative of all of the opportunities I am experiencing.

May 2
Reflecting in Italy

Carly Ciarochi ’14, English
Studied at: John Cabot University

Reflecting in Italy

What a ride it has been! My journey in Rome has been an emotional ride from start to finish. I still cannot believe that I have been to places that I never thought I’d see in my lifetime, like Prague, Paris, Florence, and the island of Capri. I was blessed to see history unfold before my own eyes. I spent a great deal of my semester at St. Peter’s Square, saying farewell to Pope Benedict and welcoming Pope Francis. I watched as Pope Benedict was taken away in the papal helicopter after his retirement ceremony as he waved a hearty goodbye to the people who flocked from all around the world. I was there, again, during the papal conclave, when thousands of people stood in the freezing rain for hours, and were ecstatic to see the white smoke billowing out of the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel. I shared in the delight of the millions who then swarmed the square to hear the famous words, “Habemus Papam” (“We have a Pope!”), followed by Pope Francis’s first appearance on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica. What a whirlwind adventure to have been in Rome for such an important time in the Catholic Church. Grazie mille, to my wonderful family and friends who encouraged me to take this leap of faith and experience the most amazing four months of my life. I could not have done it without you. Ciao, Rome!