Eric Milburn: Study Abroad Introduced Me to My Greatest Passion

“Study Abroad Introduced Me to My Greatest Passion”

by Eric Milburn via “The Northwestern

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“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”

— Christopher McCandless (Alexander Supertramp) 1992

This quote from Christopher McCandless, the famous adventurer whose life sparked the book and movie, “Into the Wild,” can best illustrate our way of life.

One year ago, I sent in an application after some guidance from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Office of International Education to study abroad in Cordoba, Argentina. A few months later, I found myself in the remnants of the most impulsive decision of my life. I was standing on the other side of the world with only one thing in mind; to build an entirely new experience that would follow me forever.

The next few months, I learned Spanish on the streets of Cordoba while traveling to all ends of the country. I made dozens of interesting friends and built long-term connections with people from all over the world. Most importantly, I lived a culture filled with rich history, food, music and people who gave me something that can’t be taught in school; an understanding of what exists outside the boundaries that I build myself.

In May 2014, I set out for a place I’ve always longed to see; Patagonia. I traveled alone on purpose because I knew I’d be forced to form friendships and wander through the unknown. I’ll never forget the moment when I found my own meaning in McCandless’ quote. I stumbled off the 32-hour bus ride in El Calafate, Argentina. It was in the cold heart of Patagonia near the border of Chile. Plants were nonexistent and sand was ubiquitous. I was alone in a new city with only my backpack and a roll of pesos. I walked the streets where travelers could be seen on every corner. When I opened the door into the hostel, America del Sur, I knew immediately, I had wandered into the right place. . . . .

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Studying abroad: Life is the Key Lesson

“Studying abroad: Life is the Key Lesson”

by Adrianna Smith via “Washington Post

Things don’t start to feel real until you drag your two empty suitcases into your bedroom and start to pack for your semester abroad. That’s when you realize your life for the next six months will have to weigh less than you do, in fact less than a small child.

There was a morning in late May, just a couple of weeks before I would have to re-pack those suitcases, when the heat of Seville woke me up earlier than usual. Even with the window wide open, as soon as the sun rises there’s no escaping the heat of this ancient Spanish port city. I sat up in bed listening to the sounds of the apartment building waking up, shades rattling open and mothers moving in kitchens. I thought about leaving this city, whether I was ready. Though it was hard to sleep with the noise from the neighbors and the street below, I was grateful for this, to wake up organically with the beginnings of other people’s days.

My six months in Spain were the most exciting, frightening, enlightening months of my life. I learned so much about another culture: what other people value, what makes them get out of bed, what makes them stay up so late. I learned what it’s like to live with a family I’m not related to, and how to explore a country with strangers who would become close friends. I learned how to read a city with my feet, walking through streets so narrow that the sidewalks, where they existed, were no wider than a foot.

There are terrifying moments, like when you walk into your apartment to find the place burglarized. But there are also the magical ones, like discovering, at 3 a.m., a tiny flamenco bar filled with both neighborhood regulars and those passing through. Where the guitarist plays your favorite song and the man as large as a tuba suddenly begins to sing in a stunning and melancholic voice. Being asked to dance.  . . . .”

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Study abroad trip to Normandy, Europe changes Georgia Highlands College students in unexpected ways

What an awesome experience!  It’s amazing what opportunities you get to be part of when you travel abroad! I’m sure they will remember this forever. **DB

“Study abroad trip to Normandy, Europe changes Georgia Highlands College students in unexpected ways”

by Kristina Wilder via “Rome News Tribune

Study abroad

“It was truly the trip of a lifetime.

At the beginning of June, seven Georgia Highlands College students and two faculty members went to London to begin a trip organized by EF College Tours. The tour followed the route of World War II soldiers and was part of a Western Civilization class at the college. The study abroad trip was open to students not taking the class as well as those who were.

After two days in London, they left by bus on June 5 to Portsmouth where they took a ferry across the English Channel and landed in Caen in Normandy, France.

It was along that coast on June 6, 1944, where the Allies’ D-Day invasion began during World War II.

Already excited about the planned tour, the group got an especially thrilling treat when the tour guides secured invitations for the group to attend the ceremonies at the American cemetery on Omaha Beach. President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande were scheduled to speak and security was exceptionally tight.

“The highway was shut down and our bus had a police escort to get to Omaha Beach,” said Bronson Long, professor at Georgia Highlands. “We saw Marine One land and the Secret Service was there, the military was there. It was huge. It was standing room only.”

The group attended the ceremonies in Normandy on the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Surrounded by veterans of the war and 51 heads of state, the group was a little overwhelmed.

“I think we all cried, it was so emotional,” said Megan Broome, one of the students. “It was just incredible that we got to be there and experience that.”

Broome, who was enjoying her first trip overseas was especially grateful for the experience.

“I’ve never even been out of the southeastern states, so it was really special for me,” she said. “I think it was really amazing that while listening to President Hollande, he spoke in French of course, and I don’t understand French, but it was still so affecting  . . . .”

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