Traveling can turn a person into the most wonderful storyteller. Recounting experiences brings light into the traveler’s eyes as he or she reflects on past adventures. East Stroudsburg University junior Madison Petro says that sharing stories of her study abroad semester helps her relive it. The theatre major, from the college of arts and sciences, remembers her time overseas fondly, saw astonishing structures from the ancient castles in England to the Great Pyramids in Egypt.
It was during her first year at ESU that Petro developed an interest in spending a semester abroad. She saw an announcement in Warrior Notes, a daily campus communication, about a trip to China. It spurred her curiosity in traveling, and she started planning her adventure. “I am very grateful for the staff in the study abroad office. They connected me with different programs and helpful advisers,” Petro said. “With their help, I researched the many program options available for ESU students and the partnering universities in order to pick the one that would best fit my academic course of study.”
After much deliberation, Petro decided to apply for an International Student Exchange Program (ISEP). ISEP partners with students across the world to help them study in different countries, while paying the tuition rate of their home university. This allowed Petro to continue use of a PSECU scholarship she was awarded towards her studies.
Petro wanted to go to England, but knew she did not want to study directly in London. She was ecstatic when she learned of her placement in May 2016. “I was placed at University of Sunderland, located in Northeastern England,” she said. “It was the perfect location for me. It would only be a short train ride from London, and I knew it would be easy to access other travel opportunities as well.”
When Petro left the United States on September 17, she spent time dreaming in anticipation of the adventures that awaited her. She moved into a flat, the equivalent to an apartment in the United States, with six students. She seized the chance to meet new people and get involved by joining a dance class, which helped to bring her out of her comfort zone in a new country. Petro took many chances to explore with her new friends, who also enjoyed traveling while abroad.
An avid Harry Potter fan, Petro visited Alnwick Castle where the film’s scenes in Hogwarts School were shot. She traveled to Scotland and loved seeing how the old architecture and new buildings coexisted alongside one another, shaping a new structural site of beauty. Not letting the language barrier hinder her experiences, Petro and a friend spent four days in Egypt where she admired the Pyramids and Sphinx. By the end of her study abroad she visited 11 countries and gathered many stories along the way.
“I would encourage any student at ESU to study abroad. The Office of International Programs will work with you and help each step along the way,” Petro said. If you are worried about language barriers or limited travel experience Petro says, “Follow your instincts and don’t be afraid to ask for help. People are very helpful, and it’s important to step outside your comfort zone.” Petro misses her European adventure, but retelling her stories helps her relive her experiences, which she plans to share with her fellow students at ESU.