New world, new point of view


Junior German major Samuel Hedrick stands amongst the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon in eastern Iceland during his time abroad. Submitted photo.

Blythe Alspaugh

When senior fashion merchandising major, Nina Amoroso went to study abroad in Italy, she expected to figure out what she wanted to do with her major and become more independent.

Her first week in Florence was spent getting lost in the city — literally.

“I didn’t have a map with me, and everything looks the same in Italy because there is a church on every corner,” Amoroso said. “It took me two hours to find the school and when I got there, the lecture was completely done.”

Instances like this one were one of several that helped shape Amoroso’s experiences while studying abroad, and even helped her meet her prior expectations.

“I can trust myself with decision making, and I am more independent.” Amoroso said, “I’ve learned to trust my instincts more and just go with it.”

According to Ediz Kaykayoglu, assistant director of education abroad, personal growth is something that motivates many to study abroad.

“When you’re in a different environment, you have a different experience while trying to figure yourself out,” Kaykayoglu said. “Those experiences will also help you to become a more open-minded person. You remove some of your stereotypes, and you also limit your judgment of different cultures and people of different backgrounds.”

For senior fashion merchandising major Olivia Wells, that sentiment resonates.

“I met so many amazing people — teachers, artists, students — everyone I met was incredible,” Wells said. “You can’t judge people until you meet them.”

Wells studied abroad in Florence during Spring 2013. While in Italy, she became more independent as a person as a result of being immersed in the culture there.

“It’s backwards compared to America. There was no technology, and I couldn’t use a credit card anywhere,” Wells said. “I liked it a lot. I got to know ‘me’ better.”

Along with getting to know herself better, Wells got to experience a new culture in its homeland, and learn the differences between that culture and American culture.


Samuel Hedrick and friends walk near the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland during time abroad. Submitted photo.

“[In America] you can wear a pair of sweatpants to Wal-Mart, and no one cares, but over there if you go outside with wet hair, people think you’re rude. It’s very traditional,” Wells said.

Being abroad also gave Wells a new appreciation for the United States. While she said she could see herself living abroad temporarily, she doesn’t think she could stay away from America for too long.

“We all act like we’re entitled to everything,” Wells said. “We want food when we want it — we want everything so fast, and we want it how we want it. If we don’t have something how we want it, we freak out and don’t tip our waiters. In Italy, they don’t get tips.”

Cultural differences can be an eye-opener for many students while abroad. Such is the case for Sam Hedrick, a junior studying German and international relations who studied abroad in Germany.

“Studying abroad has made me look at the world with two perspectives, as both an American and as a world citizen,” Hedrick said. “I’m a lot more open, and I’ve changed the way I look at politics. I think that I’m more adventurous, as well. I’m very comfortable with travel and I’m not worried about going to new places.”

Hedrick has spent much of his time abroad. Before going into a study abroad program at Kent State, he went to Germany for the summer through a small exchange in high school called The Friendship Connection. Afterward, he hosted a German student for a month and became good friends with the student, which motivated him to visit his friend in Germany over the next summer. Following this, Hedrick spent a gap year between 2010 and 2011 in Germany.

His travels influenced him into declaring a double major.

“I originally wanted to study German, but I added international relations as a major because I did my study abroad program through the Department of State. We went to a lot of embassies, sat in sessions of the German parliament and met a lot of ambassadors. It made me really interested in that, so I decided to study international relations,” Hedrick said. “I don’t think I would have been able to continue studying German if I hadn’t studied abroad. It would have been too complicated for me.”

In addition to visiting Germany, Hedrick has traveled to Austria, Italy, Iceland, the Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands and Spain. He pays for all of his travels out of his own pocket.

“The first time I went abroad, my parents paid for my plane ticket and I worked for all my spending money. My second time abroad, I had a full-ride scholarship through the U.S. government, and then this past summer I wanted to go back to see my friends and family, so I spent all of my own money to do that,” Hedrick said. “Every time I go, I stay with people so I don’t have to pay for housing or food. All the money I spend is if I want to see a movie or go to a museum, and I work for it all.”

Despite the high cost of travel, Hedrick wouldn’t trade his experiences abroad for anything.

“I would much rather travel than have the nicest phone, or computer or clothes,” Hedrick said. “Travel is much more important to me than that.”

Contact Blythe Alspaugh at [email protected].