Last summer several incoming freshmen and new transfer students participated in a study abroad program before ever stepping foot on the University's campus.The program, Study Abroad 101, launched last summer.Kathryn Wilson, freshman from Murray, along with other Murray State freshmen and new transfer students traveled to Costa Rica July 10 through 17.
Wilson, an English education major, said she enjoyed the program because of the chance to meet fellow University students before classes began.It helped me meet a lot of new faces that I have seen frequently on campus these past semesters,Wilson said.I am able to think in a more mature and independent manner knowing I am on my own in an unfamiliar setting, kind of like in another country.Before the students departed they spent two days on campus learning about various aspects of Costa Rica like the culture, weather and wildlife, Wilson said.The 2010 program students traveled to San Jose and Puerto Vijo, Costa Rica. The program was led by Murray State students and directors Amanda Carter and Melanie McCallon.Students can also get a lot of exposure while studying in such universities and different course Materials Science,MathematicsPhysics and Astronomy and Sociology.
Adjusting to the cultural differences of Costa Rica took some time, Wilson said, though she enjoyed experiencing a culture different than her own.It was definitely overwhelming at first, especially not knowing the language well at all,Wilson said.It was interesting to see the different foods that were popular there. They got up a lot earlier and went to bed earlier. They also used a lot of public transportation, walked or rode bikes. There were a lot of farmers because the soil is so rich near the volcanoes, and there wasn't so much of a wealthy class, majority of the people are poor or middle class.During the trip, students participated in zip lining and white water rafting. They also spent time visiting a local banana farm and exploring nearby volcanoes, Wilson said. However, her favorite activity was surfing with one of her trip advisers, Adam Prescott, and another student.
Experiencing another culture helped Wilson learn grow as an individual and learn what the future holds for her, she said.I learned that I am capable of ‘cloaking myself with flexibility', a phrase we used multiple times on the trip, and that different cultures is something that is very interesting to me and that I may want to study abroad more in my future,Wilson said. "It let me see how my culture is so different from others but to also see the similarities as well. It helped me appreciate things I take for granted that are in my daily life, knowing that for others it is a luxury.