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Lewisburg, Pa. — Nine undergraduate students are chronicling their spring semester in eight different countries through Bucknell University's Study Abroad Blogs.
Meet the intrepid spring 2012 study abroad bloggers, all juniors:
Cherie Malone (Germany), Jenna Franze (Argentina), Alexandra Bird (Russia), Jesse Dondero (Austria), Sarah Dubow (France), Caitlin Falco (England), Monica Herzog (Scotland), Thet Hein Tun (England) and Brittany Wanner (Spain).
All in the family Studying in another country is a lifelong dream for some of these bloggers, and some were inspired by their parents. "I used to sit in my mother's office — she was a college ESL teacher — and stare at maps riddled with thumbtacks marking her students' home countries," said Bird, a psychology and Russian studies major. "I knew I wanted to visit these places when I grew up."
Dondero prepared for his semester in Vienna, Austria, by learning about his mother's experience abroad. "Before I left for Vienna, my mom pulled out her postcards, journal and pictures from when she spent a year in Switzerland," said the management and comparative humanities major. "We looked through some of her letters and stories. Seeing her reaction to the memories she made so many years ago made me excited that I will look back on what I write and remember the good memories from being abroad."
Why blog? This is Bird's first semester away from Bucknell, and she's eager to share her adventures in and out of the classroom. "Events and experiences become more meaningful to me when I'm able to process them and write about them in my own words," she said.
Malone, an English major, returned to Germany for a second semester. "I wanted to study abroad again because my first experience was so profound," she said. "I learned so much about myself, Germany and the United States through the eyes of foreigners, and the world in general."
Malone is taking an analytic approach to her blog. "It's not simply documenting my adventures and daily encounters, but raising questions about the differences and similarities between the cultures and appreciating them," she explained. "I also hope to describe my adventure well enough that others will be inspired to travel abroad, too."
Blogging is a way for the students to appreciate moments that may otherwise get lost in the excitement of living in a foreign country. "I hope to take a closer look at the world around me and not forget the little things," said international relations and Spanish major Franze.
"It's a chance to formally chronicle my experiences and ensure my family and friends hear from me at least once a week," said Herzog, a physics major. "I want to hone my storytelling skills."
New ways of learning For some, like English and psychology major Dubow, study abroad is about testing boundaries. "I wanted to be able to constantly push myself out of my comfort zone, take risks, let go of fear and embrace adventure," she said.
Falco, an English and psychology major, agrees: "I really want to develop my own sense of independence."
For at least one of the spring 2012 bloggers, studying abroad shapes his whole college experience. "I am already abroad. I came from Burma to Bucknell," said Tun, a civil engineering and comparative humanities major. "I believe the study abroad experience should be part of my liberal arts education."
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