Before I departed for the UTC faculty-led psychology study abroad trip, I was unnerved by the unknown of foreign countries that I had never gone to before and with a group of people I had never met. I had high expectations due to viewing the itinerary beforehand, but I did not realize this experience would go way beyond my expectations in so many ways. I was given the opportunity to travel the world, meet new people, experience new cultures, and find more meaning in my life.
Firstly, I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to make good friends that came along this journey with me. The students and faculty that accompanied me on this trip always made me feel better when I was a little home sick or had travel anxiety. We went through so many new experiences together that really bonded us as a group. For example, when our group was traveling to Austria from Germany on the train with all of our luggage, we got off at the wrong stop. It was very stressful because we just arrived in a new country and had no idea what we were doing, but instead of feeling over-stimulated and anxious, my roommate, who I had been with for the entirety of the trip, noticed how I was feeling and started dancing to make me feel better. After this trip I can say I made a very close friend out of her and many others on the trip.
My favorite part about the trip was meeting new people that had grown up in many different cultures. This allowed me to broaden my understanding of the world. I had the opportunity to make friends with two different people that lived in London. One was from Morocco, and the other was from Albania. They moved here for different reasons, but it was beautiful to hear their life stories and how their culture from their home country shaped who they are in London today. This contact between us made me think about how I grew up, how I will go through life, and who I will become. While visiting the University of Birmingham, I realized I could see myself attending graduate school there to be a part of the Psychology research program. This visit opened my eyes to a possibility and dream that I could not have thought of if I did not attend the Psychology study abroad trip.
Before one decides to study abroad, I would suggest doing research on the countries, towns, and areas that they will travel to. I experienced many different kinds of culture shocks while on this trip. Although I am glad I got to experience them to learn first-hand about the difference of cultures, I could have avoided certain uncomfortable situations if I had done some more research. For example, in many places in Germany, they prefer you to pay cash when eating in a restaurant because it is much easier for the server, and tipping is not the same as it is in America. Another suggestion I have for someone who is or thinking about studying abroad is to intentionally pack and pack light. Before the trip, I had looked at the weather and the activities we were going to do, and I tried on and planned every outfit. This allowed room in my suitcase to bring home souvenirs. Packing light also helps when traveling by train with your luggage. In trains, there is only room for one small, carry-on bag above your seat. Overall, I had an eye-opening experience just in the mere 15 days in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Austria. I learned many lessons that will stay with me forever, alongside my new close friends I met on this trip.
Emily Deason (BS Psychology) spent Summer 2022 in England, Germany, and Austria as part of a faculty-led trip linked with a UTC course. Emily had the following to say about study abroad, “This Psychology Study Abroad trip gave me the opportunity to travel the world, but also, to find myself and meaning behind what I want to do in my future career.”