During my sophomore year at EKU, I made the decision to get out of my comfort zone and study abroad in Bregenz, Austria.

I spent the summer of 2018 in the Swiss Alps, living with an Austrian family just a five-minute walk from the famous Lake Constance – which borders Austria, Germany and Switzerland. This was my first time in Europe, and I fell in love.

Knowing that I wanted to go back to Europe, when the opportunity to study abroad in Paris, France presented itself, I was ready to do it all again.

The concept of living in Paris for a month was intimidating at first; I only knew two words of French and Paris is one of the largest cities in the world.

I knew that everything that comes along with being in a big city – the good, bad and everything in between – would become part of the experience. Despite this realization, I once again decided to jump in headfirst and go for it. 

While in Paris, I took two courses. I studied non-verbal behavior, with EKU’s own Robert Brubaker, and Islamophobia in France with Christia Brown from the University of Kentucky.

Because I did not have class every day, I typically had three-day weekends to spend however I wanted.

One great thing about study abroad opportunities like this is the flexibility. I spent my free time traveling outside my host country.

While I was in Paris, I traveled to the Netherlands and spent the weekend in the Hague in Amsterdam.

I spent another weekend in Auvers ser Oise – where my favorite artist, Van Gogh, lived for the last part of his life.

For the other weekend, I chose to stay in Paris and explore the city.

Although traveling around on the weekends was great, I have found that I get more out of studying abroad when I take the time to fully experience where I am rather than trying to hop from place to place.

As a psychology major and art minor, these courses were perfect for me. I traveled to famous art museums in Paris where I spent hours admiring the works of masters, studied Parisians through observation on the streets and in the metro and spent time at all of the famous landmarks in Paris.

I learned some basic French to get by during my time in Paris, which ended up being extremely helpful.

After getting comfortable with my surroundings and routine towards the end of the trip, I felt sort of like a Parisian; especially when surrounded by tourists. 

Both of my programs were through the Kentucky Institute for International Studies, KIIS, which includes several universities from all over Kentucky.

This organization has allowed me to connect with so many people outside of EKU, and even meet other EKU students who I had never met before. The lasting friendships I have made through study abroad are truly priceless. 

For my study abroad in Austria last year, I was awarded the Laura D. Kennamer scholarship through EKU and an EKU Education Abroad Scholarship.

For Paris, I was fortunate enough to receive the Education Abroad Scholarship again. In addition to that, I received the Layne-Wood Scholarship, both through EKU.

I encourage anyone who has the desire to study abroad to go for it, even if you do not think you have the financial means.

I never thought I would be able to study abroad, but thanks to all of the scholarships I applied for and the financial aid I received, I was able to make it happen! 

It is still surreal to me that I even did these things, mostly because I never thought I could. Studying abroad is all about getting out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself to live the life you have always dreamed of.

It is exciting to get to talk about these once-in-a-lifetime experiences with others, but it means more to me to be able to carry those experiences and all that I learned with me for the rest of my life.

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