Becoming a world traveler, one semester at a time

San Antonio Senior Juliana Zepeda studied abroad in Oxford, England this summer. Here, she poses in front of Stonehenge. Photo courtesy of Juliana Zepeda

By Elise Crosley | Reporter

Baylor’s study abroad program, BearsAbroad, provides students with the opportunity to spend a semester or summer taking classes outside of the United States. Not only do they gain cultural insight while overseas, but it can also affect the way they live when they arrive back at Baylor.

“I had heard about other people’s experiences studying abroad, so I really wanted to do it myself,” Starbuck, Minn. junior Halleigh Thompson said. “I heard it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in college and most people regret not doing it. I thought Peru would be fun because I would be immersed in a Spanish-speaking country and would hopefully become more fluent.”

According to Waco sophomore Kate Moffatt, a unique aspect of many study abroad programs is that the students get to know their professors on a more personal basis. Students are able to have deep conversation and get to know them outside of the classroom.

“The people in Peru are so loving. It doesn’t matter who you are, they’re going to put their arm around you and love on you,” Moffatt said. “Our teachers were the best. One of them had us over to their house and taught us how to make a Peruvian dish.”

While students do learn so much about the country and the culture they’re in, they often find themselves learning the most about each other. San Antonio senior Juliana Zepeda went on an Oxford study abroad trip and traveled to a wide range of cities with her new friends.

“I met this group of girls, and now we’re inseparable. We’re all in different grades, all in different sororities. I took away that you can really make a friend anywhere. Studying abroad is really good for you as a person. I learned how independent I was and how social my tendencies are. I took away friendships and learned more about myself as a person,” San Antonio senior Juliana Zepeda said.

Studying abroad typically changes each student’s life in some way, and when they arrive back to campus, they get to reflect on what they just experienced and learned. For many students who go through the program, they experience a perspective shift, changing their goals and purpose altogether.

“The most important thing for {the English} is community. I think I’ve taken a lot of that into my life, especially senior year. I need to really, really appreciate the community I’ve built up the last three years and make this last one the most enjoyable and the most authentic,” Zepeda said.

According to Zepeda, studying abroad has opened up many doors to new opportunities. As a senior, she is now considering moving to Europe after she graduates.

“Everyone should study abroad. Not only do you learn about other people in other countries, but you learn about other people in your community. You learn about different personalities within Baylor. You learn a lot about yourself,” Zepeda said.

For more information about BearsAbroad, click here.