Hendrix College is known for its push for students to study abroad. This is evident through encourage Odyssey projects, and their connection with programs such as the international student exchange program (ISEP). Through ISEP, students come up with a list of schools that they are interested in traveling to. Out of this list, ISEP picks one of their top choices based on other students who are studying abroad at that institution.
Hendrix itself has their own programs commonly named ‘Hendrix-in-[city].’ Portia Renee is a current sophomore who will be studying abroad next spring through the Hendrix-in-Graz program at Karl-Franzens Universität Graz.
“I am a German minor, and I needed somewhere that I can keep taking German classes,” Renee said. “My best friend goes there, she was the German house mom–the native speaker for German house last year– so that influenced my decision. Also, they have a neuropsychology program that aligns nicely with my neuroscience major here so I can get credits that will transfer.”
Renee will be on her own when studying abroad in Graz which is located in the south-central part of Austria. This past summer, Renee had the opportunity to go abroad in Germany. With this trip, she plans on traveling beyond Graz, due to its perfect centralized location.
“I’m excited because it’s in central Europe, other countries are very accessible. I expect that I’ll be able to do weekend trips all over; I’ll be able to go to Italy. I’m planning a trip to Spain and Morocco,” Renee said.
Leaving home for six months is a difficult adjustment for many. Getting adjusted to college takes time. Many students are finally finding the groove after their sophomore year. Whenever Renee enters Graz, she will be staying in an apartment with her own bedroom, bathroom, and own kitchenette, but there will be a shared living space with potentially other students who are studying internationally that may be from France, Spain, or even China.
“It’s definitely nerve-wracking,” Renee said. “I feel as a sophomore, I have finally gotten into the rhythm of how I like my life to be at college. I’ve figured the college thing out in a way that makes me happy and is fulfilling. The idea of leaving all that for something totally unknown is very scary.”
Next spring, junior Elliot Anderson will find is own adventure in Monterrey, Mexico at Tecnológico de Monterrey through the ISEP program. Tecnológico de Monterrey is a private college with a prestigious atmosphere that sits just an hour flight away from Dallas. Although this college is considered private, it is not comparable to the size of Hendrix. Tecnológico de Monterrey has an approximate enrollment of 90,917 students as recorded in 2015.
Anderson is an international relations major with a Spanish minor. The international relations major requires its students to study abroad at some point during their time at Hendrix. Anderson will be enrolled in courses that correlate with these two subject matters. Although the course selection has not officially opened, Anderson has an insight on the courses he hopes to be enrolled into.
“There are two Spanish literature classes I was looking at for my Spanish minor and power in Latin America literature,” Anderson said. “The other [course], I believe, was Mexican literature, and the politics courses I was looking to take are international relation courses one of them was a northern Latin America/ Caribbean area course.”
Anderson’s total flight time will only be a mere four hours, but this does not limit the cultural change he will experience. Anderson believes that this opportunity could possibly help him take a step towards his dream job as a potential American consul-ant who works in Mexico, Argentina, or anywhere in Latin America.
“I think the importance is authentically experiencing other cultures, learning their perceptions, learning to look around and against conceptions and prejudices that you might hold towards a culture,” Anderson said.
Another student, sophomore Mallory Magruder is using studying abroad as a way to prepare her for her potential future living internationally by studying at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco. This will not be her first time abroad at Hendrix. Last summer she traveled to Cameroon, Africa and Spain. Magruder does not know much about the culture of Morocco. She had initially wanted to study in Ghana but has found her way to Morocco instead.
“I am interested in the social issues of Africa and Morocco is in north Africa,” Magruder said. “I’m really going into this with no expectations; I would like to learn some Arabic through my Arabic class. I am also taking French classes and African and Moroccan literature classes.”
Magruder is not nervous about this, adventure rather the opposite. With the opportunities to try new food, learn new languages, and learn from professors all around the world, Magruder sees a significance in the potentials that studying abroad has to offer.
“Studying abroad is really good for people,” Magruder said, “because it forces you to immerse yourself into a culture that is not your own. It forces you to be completely out of your comfort zone, and you learn how to be okay with not having all of the things you have on a normal basis.”
Junior Leah Crenshaw will be studying abroad in Puerto Rico in Mayagüez next semester through the ISEP program. At Hendrix, Crenshaw is a double major in biology and English. Many people close to Crenshaw have been curious as to how and why she would pursue English in a predominantly Spanish speaking country.
“I am very excited because one of the courses I am taking is specifically on English speaking literature of the Caribbean,” Crenshaw said, “that’s an aspect of English literature I would never could take here at Hendrix. As far as biology, I will be studying either human physiology or plant physiology. I’ve been reaching out to the professors in those departments seeing how I can get involved volunteering for a research lab to get more of an on the ground experience.”
Crenshaw will be living in a privately-owned apartment, not on campus. In this apartment, she will have a roommate that she does not know. There are no other students from Hendrix studying in Puerto Rico during this spring semester.
“It’s dangerous to expect things from a situation that I don’t have control. I’m not going to Puerto Rico to find what I expected, I’m going to Puerto Rico to find a totally new experience. I will be living with a roommate, and my one hope is that she will be friends with me,” Crenshaw said.
Crenshaw was very unsure as to where she wanted to study abroad. This past summer, she had the opportunity of going to Hendrix-in-Madrid. This helped centralize where exactly she would like to study and practice her Spanish skills.
“I had a good trial period and realized how much I like the kind of traveling you are able to do when you are living and staying in that environment,” Crenshaw said, “because I lived day to day like a Spaniard, that turned out to be something I liked.”
There is a lot of bravery that comes into studying abroad. Crenshaw made the decision to apply even before she was sure about going abroad, just to set herself up to pursue this opportunity and open that door for herself.
“I’ll admit that I am not fond of new situations,” Crenshaw said. “I find them very exciting but also very nerve wracking. Giving myself a year to hype myself up for this experience really helped me find the bravery to do it. I knew I wanted to study abroad, I just had to find the courage to do so.”
Studying abroad in college is a way to open completely new doors for yourself. Hendrix college tends to put a push on this form of education and works with students to make this happen. Crenshaw finds this to be a one in a lifetime opportunity and a way to hold onto her fluency of Spanish as her second language.
“It’s very unlikely that outside of school, I will have a time in my life where I will be able to drop everything, move to a completely new place for six months, completely acquire a new life and come back,” Crenshaw said. “The United States has a particular view of the world. Everybody knows that the U.S. is self-centered, but study abroad as an educational tool, can cure students of that. It’s hard to realize ways that you are ignorant and to overcome ignorance without a guiding force.”