Now that spring quarter is finally here, campus is starting to get busier for numerous reasons: spring is just around the corner (although Michigan weather likes to hide the high temperatures until the last possible minute), anxious seniors are starting their last round of classes before graduating, and many juniors are returning from study abroad. I can see changes everywhere; I see fresh faces on the quad and new voices in my classes.
It is very interesting to see this horde of juniors returning from exotic locations full of new stories and new friendships to talk about. The study abroad program obviously influences the juniors themselves, since they are thrust into a foreign country and forced to learn the culture and ways of that country, all while attending classes and meeting new people. It seems to be a completely immersive learning experience. But more than just enriching the juniorsʼ educations, it is actually enriching mine. Bringing this group of students back to K with stories of their experiences and new knowledge is helping to educate me about these cultures as well. Students talk about the interactions between themselves and their host families, locals and the friendships they made, different cultural/national traditions that they partook in, and of course the food. I have heard stories about Kenya, Scotland, Japan, France, Costa Rica, and so many other countries that I could only dream about visiting before coming to K. Spring quarter brings a whole new level of universality to campus.
Hearing the juniors speak about their experiences, I am impatient to start the study abroad process for myself! There are so many different locations to study in that I know I will have a hard time narrowing it down to one. A major reason I decided to come to K was the availability and encouragement to study abroad during junior year, and I cannot wait to start the application process sophomore year!