One of Messiah’s biggest selling points was their study abroad program. While I was wading through college website after college website Messiah kept standing out. They were something like seventh in the nation at the time. They had (and still have) quite the list of destinations, so I was sold.
I decided to study at LCC International University in Klaipeda, Lithuania fall semester of my junior year. It has been my most amazing Messiah experience, but I’m not ashamed to say that I was a mess when it came to preparing to leave. Juggling applications, dates, reference letters, meetings, emails, and everything else that goes into studying abroad is a rather intense undertaking. There’s no way I would have gotten everything to work out if I was doing it on my own. Luckily, I wasn’t.
Messiah’s Intercultural Office (previously the Epicenter) couldn’t have been more helpful in the study abroad process. Faith, Wendy, and the rest of the gang have the inner working of international education down to a science. They laid the process out for me in clear terms, helped me every step of the way, and answered every question I had, no matter how bizarre (or seemingly irrelevant!). That they are the nicest people on earth goes without saying.
In case you couldn’t tell, this is a shameless plug for the Intercultural Office and study abroad. Particularly study abroad. As I mentioned, I was in Lithuania for the fall 2012 semester – far and away the time of my life. I spent four months living with Eastern European students (I had roommates from Moldova and Ukraine), eating new foods, learning a new language, and travelling a part of the world few Americans ever experience (I feel obligated to say that Lithuania’s part of the world is not Africa – you have no idea how many times I’ve had to answer that question…)! My trip was filled with weekends in Latvia, Estonia, and Germany, a week in Russia, and another five days in Spain. I spent time in Lithuania’s capital of Vilnius, lived in a beautiful city on the Baltic Sea, and saw bears on the sidewalk.
I was able to fully immerse myself in a totally foreign, different culture that was completely out of my comfort zone. I had to learn a whole new way of life on the fly. I made mistakes, got confused, and experienced being an outsider for the first time in my life. It’s something I will never forget; a life-changing experience that I never could have navigated on my own. If you’re reading this, I assume you’re interested in international education is some fashion. With that in mind, I’m telling you to study abroad! Do it. Love it. Hold on to the experience for the rest of your life.
Buddy Hocutt ’14