Going Global at World Campus

Published by on Monday, March 25th, 2013 at 7:30 am
Filed under Student Voices, Study Abroad. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Recently, World Campus Business Administration student Luis Cruz traveled over 3,000 miles from his home in Wallkill, New York to Ireland for a weeklong study abroad opportunity. The program, offered through World Campus in partnership with Penn State Brandywine Global programs, gave Luis the opportunity to travel between the Irish cities of Galway, Belfast, and Dublin in the span of 7 days. We had the opportunity to chat with Luis and hear about his exciting travels.

How did you fit the program into your school and work life?

Academically, I asked my adviser to help me choose a class that would allow me to go on the trip. She signed me up for AM ST 105—an American Studies class focused on Irish culture and its influence in the United States. We had several assignments due prior to departure, so that we would be prepared and somewhat informed on what to expect in Ireland. In terms of getting ready with my personal life, I simply took vacation time from work.

Prior to participating did you have any concerns?

Yes. I was really nervous about meeting everyone else who was going. I thought they would already know one another, and that I would sort of be a bit of a loner, but that was not the case. It was great to meet World Campus students during the trip from Altoona, Pennsylvania; North Carolina; and Seattle, Washington. Even the campus-based students from Penn State Brandywine and University Park were friendly and easy to get along with. After the third day on the trip everyone talked as if we had all known each other for a long time.

Can you describe the classroom environment?

We didn’t have to sit in a traditional classroom setting—our professor allowed whatever city we were in to serve as our classroom. We were expected to explore some of the popular and historic sites, and take in as much as we could. We also met over breakfast to discuss what we learned and share facts on certain attractions with one another (as part of our community contribution). Also, as part of my project for the class I was expected to talk to locals about their view on the economy in Ireland.

How did study abroad enhance your World Campus experience?

It allowed me to explore and visit another country, and meet fellow Penn State students. I’ve taken online courses through another institution and they didn’t really make you feel connected to the school or your peers. I think it’s great that Penn State includes World Campus students in these trips. It helps make us feel more a part of the Penn State community. It’s great to get the on-campus experience as a World Campus student.

What was the most memorable moment of your trip?

Definitely going to the Kylemore Abbey by myself. On our second day in Galway the group I was hanging out with didn’t really want to make the hour and fifteen minute journey to see the Kylemore Abbey, so I decided to go alone. I’ve always seen pictures of the Abbey online, and in one of our books, and I really wanted to visit it (It’s not every day I’m Ireland!). The bus driver was extremely friendly, and though he could only take me to a certain point which was about 15 minutes from the Abbey, he arranged for a taxi to pick me up and take me the rest of the way.

Once at the Abbey I explored the castle, and just felt really impressed with myself for venturing out on my own like that. I was also still processing the fact that I was in a completely different country across the Atlantic Ocean. It was an amazing feeling to see the beautiful countryside Ireland had to offer, and to know that I was really there. After leaving the Abbey I had to walk 3 miles to Letterfrack where I would take the bus back to Galway. It was quite the adventure for me since I had never done anything like that before.

What would you say was your biggest learning experience?

As a Business Administration student, part of my project was to ask locals how they felt about the economy in Ireland. I talked with local Irish people in Galway, Letterfrack, and Belfast and it was interesting to learn how opinions varied.

Some thought that the economy wasn’t too bad, while others thought the country was on its knees because of how bad the economy was. A front desk clerk in one of the hotels mentioned since the dollar is worth less than the euro, many Americans are very conscious about how they spend their money while abroad (I sure was). The currency in Belfast is the British pound, so the US dollar is worth even less in Northern Ireland.

Would you recommend study abroad to other World Campus students?

I would really recommend study abroad to other World Campus students, because it allows you to meet and connect to other Penn State students and explore a whole new country at the same time. I think that this is a great opportunity made available to World Campus students and we should take advantage of it.

If you’ve had an exciting experience and would like to share, let us know! Drop us an email at WC_Community@outreach.psu.edu.

About Gichuhi Kamau

As a member of the World Campus student communications team, I contribute to the Corner of College and Allen blog, and assist with sending out communications to students. As an alum coming from a family of Penn Staters, I'm happy to share the history and traditions of the University with World Campus students. Read more about me.

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  • Yana Irwin

    Many thanks for sharing your study aboard experience with us, Luis! From your post, it seems as though you have really learned a lot and connected with other Penn Staters! The pictures are amazing and I am proud of you for participating in this educational adventure!

  • Bryan Furlong

    I’d like to know more about how Luis was able to find this opportunity. I don’t think I’ve seen anything about how world campus students can get involved in Study Abroad opportunities. Thanks so much for your help.

  • Luis Cruz

    @Yana- Thank you for helping me get on board with this trip! I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again… I’m glad to have you as an Academic Advisor!

    @Bryan- I found out about this trip via the World Campus website. I remember as I was going to log into my email one day in late October 2012, I saw an announcement for the study abroad opportunity in Ireland. I clicked on the link and read up on the program, and how they have multiple trips through out the year (usually for Spring break and Thanksgiving break) to different destinations. It also lists the different classes that we as World Campus students can possibly take in order to join the trip (as long as the classes fit into your program). Your Adacemic Advisor can help you choose the right class for you.

    Once you have chosen a class that fits your program you would need to email the course instructor for permission to join their class (the sooner you do this the better your chances of getting approved, since I think space is limited). Keep an eye out for the next study abroad opportunity… I’m sure you would like it. Hope this helps.