Name: Megan Temple
Major: Marketing, Digital Marketing
Graduation Date: May 2022
What types of international experiences did you have as a student at App State?
Before studying abroad, I attended occasional international and cultural events on campus, but I was not actively involved. Since then, however, I’ve been seeking out campus clubs and planning to get much more involved with a couple of the programs and organizations we have available.
Did your time abroad give you a new perspective on yourself and your own culture/country? In what way?
By living in a culture very different to my own, I learned that cultural learning and global understanding are intentional choices. No matter how much I prepared, mistakes were inevitable, but my learning really began when I acknowledgeable and reflected on those situations. It was through those instances that I saw how diverse our world is and how much we truly have in common despite our differences. Placing myself so far out of my comfort zone was difficult, but I’ve found that the most terrifying opportunities often teach me the most, and studying abroad was no exception.
What was the most challenging aspect of studying abroad? What was the most rewarding part?
The most challenging aspect of studying abroad was actually once I was back in the U.S. after returning early due to the pandemic. I finished my semester online, which meant group projects and lectures were pretty complicated for me given challenges with time zones, communication across cultures/languages, and a different education system. I felt stuck between two worlds: physically living in the U.S. but spending most of my day studying at my Dutch university and communicating with classmates abroad.
Meeting other internationals and learning about their lives and career goals was the most rewarding part. I lived on a hall with students from all over the world, and I loved getting to know them and how they also ended up in the Netherlands. Since the second half of our semester was online, it made me more intentional about reaching out and staying connected to some of the people I met while I was there, and I really value those friendships even now.
If you could sum up in one or two sentences what this experience meant to you, what would you say?
Living and learning in the Netherlands taught me to step outside my comfort zone, not take myself so seriously, and get involved in whatever ways possible, even when nothing is familiar.
What advice would you give students who wish to study abroad for the upcoming semesters, but who might not be able to due to COVID-19?
Don’t give up. It may not be possible right now, but there are so many ways you can still get involved with an international community here on campus with student clubs and programs. I am also still looking into potential international internships and career opportunities. If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that global learning can continue even when you are in your home country.