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Alumni Profiles:
Here are a few of the students who went abroad on semester or short-term study in 2016-17.

  • Rachel MacKelcan: Short-Term, Faculty-Led, Ireland
  • Maria Reed: Semester, Sydney, Australia
  • Colleen Rockwell: Semester, London, UK
  • Morgan Sewall: Semester, Florence Italy

Rachel MacKelcanRachel MacKelcan
English Major
Writing Through War to Peace: Images and Narratives of the Troubles and Beyond in Northern Ireland, Faculty-Led Short-Term Program

Why this program?
I want to understand the world, to see pain, and to understand the human experience beyond the safety of my own home. I think as Americans we are so quick to be satisfied with the google search version of reality, but I want to be able to write the books and stories of the common man and woman. I went because there is too much left unsaid when we think about pain and fear and conflict, and I think this world already has too many secrets, we don't need to add emotions to the list. Half the people I know, know nothing about the Troubles in Ireland, I think that is an injustice to the people who lived through it and the people still suffering from the fallout.

Program Housing
We stayed in two hotels. They were both very nice with great amenities, and I enjoyed them thoroughly.
 
Unexpected & excellent
I think I expected to grow during this trip but I didn't expect to get as close as I did to all the people I went on the trip with. They challenged me to be bold and confident in ways I didn't think I could be. I am definitely a person that feeds off of the energy of others and in many ways the energy was so great in ways I could have never imagined. I guess another unexpected thing I saw was when I met some people at a gift shop and was able to have a real conversation with them. I never imagined that would happen but was so glad it did.
 
Pearls of Wisdom
Don't say no to opportunities, it sounds cliche but you never know what will happen if you just take a chance on yourself, your friends, and a new experience.
 
If you could keep one aspect of the host culture, and make it part of your life?
CRAIC. I think the good conversations, staying up late and being real with my fellow travelers is something I really hope continues through the year.
 
Culture Stress
I think the most stress came when I felt those in my group were too focused on the night activities, the drinking, and not being present or respectful of traditions and culture that existed all around
 
Lessons learned
I learned that patience is hard, that living with your friends is very hard but it is the hard times that really make you push away from yourself and focus more on the present. Each time I felt stressed I just took a breath and looked around and suddenly, in realizing how small I was, I was able to grow and expand beyond the space and really feel the pulse of what was happening around me.
 
It isn't about the night scene as much as the people taking part in it. Make the kinds of friends who will stay up in hotel lobby and talk to you until all hours of the night. The conversations you have after a night exploring are far more incredible than can ever be explained. Sometimes the exhaustion is worth it.
 
Be yourself, in a different country where no one knows your name you can be freer than you have ever been. This does not mean go crazy and be a stereotypical American College student. It means be proud and confident and humble and everything you know you truly are. Talk to new people, get lost, take chances, and pay attention to all the information that you can learn from around you. Be yourself.
 
Should I stay or should I go?

I would do it again if I get the chance. No questions asked I loved it.
 
Fun facts
The language. I found a book that gave little quirky Irish sayings, it was so funny to see how another culture communicates because although they speak English, the Irish have so many different words.

Talk to the tour guides alone, ask them questions, they will surprise you.

Irish food is so much better than I had ever imagined, I am so grateful I made an effort to try everything that I could not order here at home.
 
CONTACT Rachel about her program at mackelcanr@merrimack.edu.

 


Maria Reed SydneyMaria Reed
Business Administration Major
Sydney, Australia - Global Institute, SEMESTER

Why this program?
Originally I applied to the Sydney, Australia program as a plan B, just in case I didn't get accepted to the Florence, Italy program, as it was to be considered very competitive that semester.  However, three days before we received our acceptance letters into our programs I emailed the Global Education Office and told them I'd changed my mind on my first choice. I ended up choosing Australia because I wanted to push my comfort zone just a little further. I knew some girls who'd also applied to the Italy program and had traveled there four months earlier with my family for vacation. In contrast, I did not know anyone who applied to the Australia program or what to even expect.  This was the best decision of my life and now Australia will always have my heart.
 
Favorite class(es)
My favorite classes in Australia were Art Down Under and Exploring the Global City.  These two classes were the most interesting to me because in every class I learned something new.  My teachers were amazing, keeping the learning environment laid back, but also challenging when necessary.  One of the teachers I had in Australia is by far one of my favorite teachers I have ever had.  The faculty there made my experience in this beautiful country much more enjoyable.  
 
Challenges
The most challenging elements of my semester were the first week and the times where I traveled.  As with everyone else who studies abroad, the first week is by far the hardest.  I had no friends who traveled with me there or anyone to even comfort me when I got there.  I was 10,000 miles away from home with literally no idea what to expect out of my semester. But you do find your group and settle in very quickly because there were a lot of people who were also in my position, searching for familiarity. Traveling was also challenging because I left what you made home in my host city to a brand new place with hostels that I probably should have searched reviews of before I showed up. However, it was always comforting to return "home" and get back into my routine. 
 
I lied: the hardest part of all was leaving.  It broke my heart. The friends I made, the places I went, and the adventures I took were indescribable, and things that I will never be able to duplicate.
 
Program Housing
I chose to live in an apartment. For my semester I stayed at Urbanest, student accommodations located all around Sydney. the apartment was a very modern, spacious living space that I shared with 7 other girls. Four rooms (each with their own bathroom), eight girls, and a living room / kitchen area.  We also had a cleaning service that came in to wipe down our common room area (which came in handy).
 
Unexpected & excellent
My program unexpectedly did challenge me to relax and stay calm even in high stress situations. I didn't realize how stressed and concerned I became in situations I couldn't even control until I studied abroad. Now, I have learned to say "no worries" or "no dramas" and just chill out and be present. Stay in the moment. This is something I will forever value.
 
Pearls of Wisdom
Follow your heart, not your friends. Push your comfort zone just a little further.
 
If you could keep one aspect of the host culture, and make it part of your life, what would it be?
Stay in the present, no worries. Because life is too short not to chill out and take everything in.
 
Culture Stress
UGH. THE GROCERY STORE.

And I have now learned my lesson to walk on the left side instead of the right in Australia. Very frustrating until I got the hang of it.
 
Lessons learned
How expensive things were. Sydney is a very expensive city. I knew going into this program that I was going to take full advantage of all the activities that this country had to offer, but I didn't realize how expensive they were. Or just to live there in general.  I maybe should have came up with a budget before I left. However I do not regret anything. I studied abroad the right way #SemesterOfYes
 
Should I stay or should I go?

#SemesterOfYes: ALWAYS GO. That never should be a question.
 
Fun Facts
No tipping, being quiet on public transportation, and being aware of how loud Americans actually are compared to people in the rest of the world.
 
CONTACT Maria about her program at reedma@merrimack.edu.

 


RockwellColleen Rockwell
Creative Writing Major
London, UK -Global Institute SEMESTER

Why this program?
I always dreamed about going to England because of all my reading of British authors such as Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Emily Bronte.
 
Favorite class(es)
My favorite class I looked forward to every week was my English literature class: Shakespeare and London.  I recently started to understand Shakespeare while reading it for my Renaissance Drama and class and I knew I had to take it while studying abroad in London.  This class was taught by an awesome professor and we not only talked about what was happening in each play we talked about the history of Shakespeare along with why he wrote each play.  Lastly, we went to the West End to see some of Shakespeare's plays.
 
Challenges
I would say the most challenging elements of studying abroad in London would be time management because you want to do everything but still have to keep on top of your school work.  I also interned abroad and had to make sure I met up with the required hours each week and still do my homework. This taught me patience and to keep calm and that everything will be fine in the end.  Further, the Tube was difficult to navigate at first, but it was pretty easy in the end.  It's not quite as daunting using public transportation as it was when I first arrived in London.  I think I'm a pro now.

Program Housing
I opted for a Flat instead of a homestay.  I loved living in a flat and cooking my own meals.  I met a couple girls from Pittsburgh that I roomed with.  The location of my flat was not too far from the location of my classes.  It was an easy tube ride.  I think living in a flat in a city is very exciting because something is always going on around you and I could walk to the mall if I wanted to too.  Housing at Merrimack is very quiet compared to London flat living.  I much prefer living in an area where it is loud and there's something to do rather than a quiet area.  I adjusted very well to living in a flat and had no problems. 

Unexpected & excellent
When you study abroad, you think I'm going to this place and that place and probably think there will hardly be any homework.  I was actually surprised by the amount of homework I received from professors.  On top of an internship too, working 20 hours a week.  That's a lot on your table.  I definitely learned Personal Flexibility during my time in London.  I knew I wanted to see the sights, but I had responsibilities too.  On some weekend getaways I would bring homework on plane rides and get caught up on things. Traveling caused me to miss some work days so I had to make up those hours and had no problem doing so.  If you intern while studying abroad on top of going to classes and wanting to travel, you find it is easy to do if you put your mind to it and just take one step at a time.
 
Pearls of Wisdom
Just go, you won't regret it, and it'll be the best thing you do for yourself.
 
What is one aspect of the host culture, you want to make part of your life?
I would say pub culture. Everyone goes to the pubs after they get out of work and socialize. I'm going to try and do this with friends back at school.

Culture Stress
When I got home [to the States], I realized that I couldn't just hop on the tube and get to a certain place: I had to drive again. I didn't like that very much.

Lessons learned
Well, I wouldn't have brought my rain boots with me; that was a complete waste of space. 
 
Should I stay or should I go?
Go! There's a whole world waiting for you to explore and it won't happen if you stay on campus.
 
Fun facts
The Globe Theatre is about 750 feet away from the original location.  Also, St. Paul's Church is not the original church, it burned down during the Great Fire of London in 1666 and was later rebuilt.
 
CONTACT Colleen about her program at rockwellc@merrimack.edu.


Morgan Sewall FlorenceMorgan Sewall
Major in Graphic Design & Marketing
Florence, Italy - Global Institute SEMESTER

Why this program?
After taking a couple art history classes during my time as a student, Florence was no question when it came to picking a place to study abroad. As a design major, art has a huge influence on not only my education, but my life as well. Florence is basically the home of Renaissance art history, and I saw and experienced it's influences basically every day there. I also chose to study in Florence 1, because I had never been to mainland Europe before, and 2, I wanted to challenge myself in trying to learn a new language. The only other European cities CAPA offered were London and Dublin, which are both English speaking places. Learning to communicate in a new language intrigued me and made studying in Florence seem like it would give me a good chance to get out of my comfort zone.
 
Favorite class(es)
My favorite classes were definitely drawing and Renaissance art history. I liked these classes the most out of the 5 I was taking because they were the most interactive, culturally engaging courses. Every class we would go to a museum, explore the city, or find a historical building or sculpture to draw. Every time we left the classroom and started experiencing real life things, I learned and absorbed so much more than I would have just sitting in the classroom. 
 
Challenges
The most challenging part of my semester was definitely the language barrier. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone isn't easy, and it was especially difficult to communicate in the beginning before knowing much Italian at all. But as difficult as it was at times, I believe it enhanced my cultural understanding of Florence and Italy as a whole much better than I may have understood an english speaking place. Finding ways to get around language barriers with locals made our conversations more exciting and meaningful. Just by conversing we would have taught each other new things about our own cultures as well as navigated new ways to communicate other than just through language. I can't say that I didn't struggle at times, but looking back on the experience I know that they were positive struggles that taught me a lot about both my culture and Italian culture.
 
Program Housing
I chose to live in an Apartment in Florence. I knew I was going to be living with one girl from Merrimack as my direct roommate, but then we were actually placed with two other girls also from Merrimack. One thing that I loved about studying abroad as a Sophomore in this sense, is that even though I was living with people from my home university, I didn't really know anyone going to Florence because most people were in the grade above me. I knew I wanted to get to know a lot of new people during this experience, and it ended up working out amazing because I was able to really get to know some girls from Merrimack that I otherwise may not have even met. I was able to meet a lot of other American students in the CAPA program through our classes, and many of us all lived in a similar vicinity so we were able to get together between and after class as well. My apartment was quite a ways from the city center - which was really a good thing. We were about a 20 minute walk from our classes and could have taken a bus, but I liked walking. I lived just about a block down on the Southern side of the Arno River, the side opposite from the duomo, Uffizi Gallery, Santa Maria Novella, etc. I liked living on this side of town because it allowed me to explore more of the local areas rather than just sticking to the touristy things. I spent a lot of time around the Santo Spirito area, which was about a block away from our apartment building. 

We were really happy with our apartment. We had a decent sized living area and kitchen, but the bedrooms were much smaller than you would find at Merrimack. This took a little adjusting to as there wasn't much space for all of our belongings, but we quickly realized that we didn't really need that much space, and we weren't in our apartment a lot until it was time for bed. I liked the apartment setup because I was able to get a taste of living on my own while still getting to meet with a family once a week through CAPA's Ganzo family project. 

Unexpected & excellent
My program challenged me to grow in my own self confidence because by throwing myself into a new culture with a completely different language, I really had to fend for myself. I had to become confident in my own ability to communicate and find my way around new areas and cultures. I developed a better knowledge of the Italian language and also my home culture. I see Americans with different eyes now, which is not necessarily a good or bad thing as there are benefits and disadvantages to this. I realized how comfortable I was within my own culture and how stepping into a new one can really challenge you and help you learn a lot about yourself. 

Pearls of Wisdom
Do everything you possibly can! Don't waste a minute of your time because the more you are out experiencing things the more you will absorb and learn from your experiences.

What is one aspect of the host culture, you want to make part of your life?
I think the thing I liked the most about Italian culture was the emphasis on spending time with the people you are with during meal times. Dinners would last sometimes up to 3 or 4 hours.
 
Culture stress
I had more returning culture stress than departure. After getting used to a bit of a slower, more people oriented way of life, it was hard coming back to "reality" at home. It was very unexpected.

Lessons learned
I learned that it is important to be flexible and just really aware of yourself and your surroundings. It is really important to be patient and learn to not get overwhelmed in stressful situations. Especially going abroad by yourself, you are really the main person looking out for you, so you need to be able to control yourself and handle situations on your own even though you will most likely be going through things with friends. I learned how to be the most independent I've ever been during my time abroad and I think that is a really valuable thing. 

Should I stay or should I go?
I have wanted to travel the world ever since I can remember so going abroad really wasn't a question for me. All my student orgs were supportive and made it easy for me to come right back when I home

Fun facts
They bring their dogs EVERYWHERE. grocery shopping, the bus, Gucci, Prada, etc. I loved it. 
 
CONTACT Morgan about her program at sewallm@merrimack.edu.