Many years ago, I spent time as a Fulbright scholar in Australia, visiting Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane doing some lecturing and research on comparative industrial relations systems. The opportunity also allowed me to take my oldest daughter Amanda with me. She spent her time experiencing the Australian school system as a fifth grader.
It was quite the adventure. One day she was asked to pack a matilda, torch, and jumper….(translation..sleeping bag, flashlight and sweater) they were going camping. Another day she brought home vocabulary words to learn. This was pre-google and we couldn’t find the meaning of these terms anywhere. It was one in the morning at the University of Melbourne library before we discovered the terms were different breeds of sheep! I scolded her for not paying attention to the sheep lecture in class. I was wrong. Turns out in Australia, students have homework that involves meeting national standards-material that is not always covered in class. It was a lesson learned. So was understanding that in Australia, when some one pokes you in the eye verbally, the proper response is to poke them back….a tough response for a southern belle from Louisiana brought up to be polite, gracious and civilized. Yet she slowly learned her way around. After returning home, she wrote a report on her experiences for school that ended: “I left for Australia believing that people there drove on the wrong side of the road and returned understanding that they just drove on the other side of the road.”
Yep. Experience is a great teacher. Since that time, I have been able to bring at least one of my children on trips with me as I have taught or started programs in China, England, France and Greece. Needless to say I am a big supporter of international student experiences and believe my time abroad has helped me diversify my thinking and develop my communication skills.
As you try to “get to the one” at UCF, by choosing a path full of experiences that will differentiate you come graduation, consider traveling the other side of the road by studying abroad. It will not only demonstrate to potential employers your willingness to get out of your comfort zone and embrace new experiences, it will teach you more about yourself and the place you call home than you can imagine. Seeing how other people live, work, and solve familiar problems in unfamiliar ways will give you greater perspective about human behavior and greater vision to devise solutions to get people where you want them to be. Employers love that skill set… It’s what they call leadership potential.
Want to learn more? Contact our Director of International Programs at firstname.lastname@example.org, set up an appointment and engage her in a conversation about how you can spend some time with one of our international partners. It will change you and your world.