More Than Expected While Abroad

Students studying abroad may occasionally find themselves gaining cultural experience in the crosshairs of major events occurring in their respective regions.

Study abroad adviser Jesse Malone said while there are always events going on in each country, there have been a few standout cases of students encountering memorable and historically significant events firsthand.

“I’d say that the majority of our students are in Europe,” she said, “or places like Australia, places where there are events going on.”

Junior advertising major Kevin Guerra of Lubbock said one of his friends studied abroad in Rome, Italy, during the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and subsequent election of Pope Francis.

The election of the Pope, he said, was a very important occurrence in Rome and around the world, and his friend was present in St. Peter’s Square when the new Pope emerged.

He said he was kept up to date with the headlining event directly through his friend’s blog and other social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.Katie_Hayes

Katie Hayes, a senior electronic media and communications major from Austin, spent a month of the summer studying in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and said she also utilized social media, when Wi-Fi was available of course.

“I think a lot of people who wanted to know what I was doing, looked at my Instagram,” Hayes said.

One detail from her trip she said she found interesting was the ongoing silent protests of the Mothers of the Disappeared, a group formed in honor of the 30,000 people supposedly kidnapped during Argentina’s Dirty War which began in the 1970s.

She said they would gather in front of the Casa Rosada in downtown Buenos Aires, which she equated to the United States’ White House.

Since it is illegal for them to speak aloud in groups of more than three, she said, the large crowd gathers once a week without saying a word.

Hayes said she was impressed by this because it has continued to occur for decades and made her realize the gravity of historical and political situations outside of her own nation.

Typically, adviser Malone said, the study abroad program does not send students to countries with political issues or travel warnings concerning the safety of the students, but if something of that nature should occur, the necessary steps to remove them from the situation may be taken.

Though Malone was not working for Tech at the time, she said, she recalls the story of a student who intended to study in Egypt for a semester, but did not end up staying there.

She said the student had only been in the capital of Cairo for a week or two when the Arab Spring became prevalent in the country, so much so the study abroad office felt it best to relocate her to the center Tech had at the time in Quedlinburg, Germany.

“She was fine,” Malone said, “she had a great semester, but she really just didn’t need to stay in Egypt at that time.”

She said areas where events such as the World Cup or Olympics take place certainly draw more students to want to study in those countries.

Students who witness those types of things, she said, hopefully gain a fresh perspective or perhaps an appreciation of whatever the issue is, as well as something to talk about when they return home.

“There’s something unique about experiencing that firsthand,” Malone said.

About Randi Reding
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