For India native Yash Mittal '19, coming to Bucknell was a "big jump" that led to even larger leaps. Last year, the computer science & engineering major studied abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he took a few unexpected turns on the dance floor — and a lot of photos.
Two of Mittal's images, captured in Scotland and the Netherlands, were winners in Bucknell's annual International Photo Contest, sponsored by the Office of International Student Services during International Education Week and celebrated Nov. 12-16.
Mittal's Moo in Gaelic earned first place in the animals and wildlife category, and his A Postcard from the Tulips was the most popular image with online voters in the architecture category.
"I like exploring places where the language is different," said Mittal, a Presidential Fellow who designed his first study-abroad experience in Hungary as a first-year student. "There's a French term, flânerie, that means wandering idly. I like to do that in places where I'm challenged to figure things out."
While in Scotland, Mittal challenged himself by taking part in traditional ceilidh dancing and setting a personal goal of meeting one new person every day for two months.
"If you have an attitude of welcoming those encounters, it enriches you personally," he said.
A visit to Mount Aspiring National Park, a World Heritage site, and a nearby lake in New Zealand led to a winning photo — That Wanaka Tree, above — in the nature category for environmental studies major Ainslie Eck '19, whose study-abroad experience sparked a desire to live in the island nation after graduation.
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"I wanted to have an experience that would push me out of my comfort zone and force me to make new friendships," she explained, adding, "It's humbling to be in a new country on the other side of the world. I learned a lot about myself."
Being immersed in New Zealand's environmentally conscious culture also solidified Eck's interest in sustainability and environmental protection.
"Almost every weekend, friends and I would pitch tents on Department of Conservation lands and leave no trace when we'd venture off the next day," she said. "I fell in love with the country and felt like the best version of myself when I was there."
Other winners included interdisciplinary studies in economics and mathematics major Xinyi Li '20, whose photo Yummy, taken in London, earned first place in the people category, and Lindsay Pan '17, M'19, a graduate assistant with International Student Services, whose image Windmills, Netherlands was judged best in the traditions and culture category. Pan, an accounting & financial management major while a Bucknell undergraduate, is now working toward a master of science in education degree.
Like Mittal, Li, from China, is already exploring a new culture by coming to Bucknell. To further expand her worldview, she undertook a London-based study-abroad program that enhanced her Bucknell studies.
"The courses covered topics from immigration history in London to the current political and economic situation of Europe under Brexit," she said. "These issues are very important for me as an economics major."
Li added, "Studying in London provided me with more diverse perspectives, which I believe will help me as a person who looks forward to living and working across countries in the future."