Student makes friends, pancakes abroad

Katie Roupe

Senior anthropology major Katie Hicks poses in her 10th century garb as she prepares “American” pancakes during her study abroad trip last spring. PHOTO COURTESY OF KATIE HICKS

Credit: Jason Hall

Adam, clothed in a wool and linen tunic, arrived with an armful of ingredients he purchased from the co-op.

“Now, since you are the only American here, you have to cook us some American pancakes,” he said as he handed her a tenth-century-style griddle.

Katie Hicks pulled out her cell phone that was tucked away under a pile of 10th century clothing and called the one person she knew who would know how to make pancakes.

“Hi mom,” Hicks said. “I’m standing on a hill in Wales.”

After getting instructions from her mom, Hicks prepared American pancakes in a 10th century world for the student reenactment group she joined during her semester studying abroad in England.

Senior anthropology major Hicks went to Leicester, England, through one of the Honors College’s study abroad programs.

Hicks’ father participated in a study abroad program in France. Hicks said she heard about his experiences overseas and knew that she wanted to travel abroad as well. She had always loved to travel and when her family took a vacation to England, she knew exactly where she wanted to go to study abroad.

In addition to visiting Wales for her reenactment group, Hicks traveled to Rome, Spain and Scotland.

She celebrated her 21st birthday in Rome. Even though the drinking age in Europe is a few years younger, she said she dragged her friends into one of the bars and had her first official drink. Hicks said her favorite memories are the ones that include the friends she made while overseas.

“The best part is the people,” Hicks said. “Everybody goes over there with a clean slate. You don’t have to worry if your friends will like you.”

Hicks said she had to make friends quickly because she was only abroad for five months, but said that the friends she made became a part of her.

“It’s easy to make friends,” Hicks said. “Just open up and be yourself. Everyone tells you that and it actually works.”

Hicks said because she was plunged into the culture with her classes and participation in a student group, making friends was a lot easier.

“I have better friends from Leicester than anyone here from Kent,” Hicks said.

She said even though she has many great friends at Kent State, the ones she made in England are of a different caliber because of the experiences they shared together.

“It was a great experience,” Hicks said. “Everyone should do it. I mean just being able to say, I have friends in England, that’s awesome.”

She said the filing process to go overseas wasn’t a problem at all. Because Hicks already had her passport, she only worried about her paperwork, which took her about a week to file. However, she encourages anyone interested in any of the study abroad programs to start the process months ahead of time.

“If you have an inkling that you want to study abroad, get a passport now,” Hicks said, noting that you have to have a passport number to completely fill out the paper work to study abroad.

Even though the trip took months of preparation, Hicks said it was worth it.

“The best part was who I became,” she said. “I know who I am. It sounds corny, but it’s true. I don’t have to put up a front. I can see who I am and who I’m going to be when I grow up.”

She said the people who impacted her the most were the friends she made, the professors and being completely on her own. There weren’t any parents around and the college placed a lot of emphasis on students’ self education, she said. However, for Hicks, the additional freedom and responsibility made the trip more memorable.

“I learned a lot about myself by doing things I’ve never done before,” she said.

On one of the separate trips Hicks took, she and a group of friends traveled to the south of Edinburgh. They decided to go hiking up a hill and the fog had settled. She said it was so foggy, but the setting created one of the best experiences of her life.

“It was the closest thing I’ve ever had to a religious experience,” Hicks said. “I wish everyone could have that experience.”

For Hicks, her traveling has just begun as she is already planning her next trip overseas to visit friends from her semester abroad.

“No one goes over wishing they hadn’t gone,” she said. “When they come back, they are all wishing they had more time.”

Contact honors and international affairs reporter Katie Roupe at [email protected].