A newsmagazine by and for the youth of Louisville

On the Record

A newsmagazine by and for the youth of Louisville

On the Record

A newsmagazine by and for the youth of Louisville

On the Record

Larger than Louisville

Studying abroad is a defining experience for many college students, but its effects may stretch beyond education itself.
Larger+than+Louisville

With shaky hands, Harry Boyce, 20, carefully pulled the letter out of his pocket. Timidly taking the card out of the envelope, Boyce’s hands traced the crisp, navy blue paper and unfolded the card. The card originally read, “goodbye and good luck,” but the sender had replaced the word ‘luck’ with ‘riddance,’ making the store-bought card her own. Boyce and his best friend both appreciated this type of humor, and the sentiment led his eyes to fill with tears. Those words, written on the scrappy-yet-heartfelt card, were a slice of his life in Ireland, which would be carried with him through his journey to Louisville.

Boyce, a junior in college studying business, is a study abroad student who began his journey in September at Bellarmine University. Boyce is from Donegal, Ireland, and when not studying in the U.S., attends Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland. Although Boyce was thankful for the opportunity to study overseas, he also had times in which he felt bits of loneliness and entrapment. 

“As an extrovert, I miss my friends, and it is weird to accept that life goes on when you’re away,” Boyce said.

Despite his doubts, he chose to embark on a completely new journey to pursue experiences in another country through a study abroad program. 

These programs allow for unique experiences as students from all over the world immerse themselves in a culture and education outside of their home country. The University of Louisville (UofL) sends about 800 study abroad students around the world every year, and they decide to participate for a variety of reasons. 

“For some it is to study a foreign language, for others it is to experience something germane to their field of study,” said Paul Hoffman, associate vice provost for international affairs at UofL. “Some students are heritage seekers, seeking out the cultural background of their ancestors. For others it is simply the sense of adventure.”

Studying abroad can also be a decent resume builder.

“Students who have studied abroad are more attractive to potential employers, if for no other reason than they have demonstrated they are receptive to change,” Hoffman said. 

According to Open Doors, a resource for international students in higher education, 188,753 students from the United States studied abroad in the 2021-2022 school year. 

 “Not many people from Ireland go to Louisville, so I wanted to try something new that’s not New York or Boston,” Boyce said. 

Boyce’s study abroad program is called Study USA, which is sponsored by the British Council Northern Ireland and Department for the Economy. Study USA allows students in Northern Ireland to attend college in the United States, even awarding scholarships to make it more accessible. Boyce’s scholarship allows him to attend Bellarmine University for free. 

The program works by matching a student in Northern Ireland with a location that is favorable to them. After the match, associates of Study USA pass on the student’s information to various colleges in their preferred location. In Louisville, Study USA and similar programs have helped hundreds of study abroad students attend various institutions, including local colleges such as Bellarmine University and Spalding University. 

Study USA helps students adjust quickly, as Boyce got involved in hobbies like mock trial and tennis, and enrolled in classes soon after he arrived in Louisville. 

When study abroad students first arrive in their host city, they might experience homesickness or culture shock, which is the feeling of disorientation caused by being exposed to an unfamiliar environment or way of life. These feelings can make it difficult for students to integrate into their new community.

When coming to the United States, it was difficult for Boyce to adjust to no longer being able to do the things that he once could at home. 

 “I have felt trapped since I cannot drive in the U.S.,” Boyce said.

Back in Ireland, Boyce didn’t have to drive often as he walked just about everywhere, from school to pubs, with his friends. However, the lack of walkability and little emphasis on sidewalks adjacent to large streets in Louisville, made him rely more heavily on vehicles for transportation.

“Everything is so unwalkable here, and I do not like to have to keep asking people for lifts,” Boyce said.

As Boyce became more familiar with the ways of life in America, he observed some key differences between Louisville and his own city. 

This is a common experience for many study abroad students, where they pick up on details and little contrasts between their host city and their city of origin. This exchange of differences is what study abroad is all about — experiencing a life unlike your own. 

Accompanying some of the negatives Boyce noticed, he also recognized the valuable lessons that Louisville offers and intends to carry them back with him to Ireland. 

 “I like the whole teamwork aspect,” Boyce said. “I’m learning to be more humble and how you can have a good impact on other people.”

Boyce appreciated the one-on-one connections he has with his teachers and friends. Specifically, he valued the spontaneity of his American friendships.

“You can just meet people and talk and study,” Boyce said. “You do not actually have to plan if you want to hang out with your friends.” 

While foreign students like Boyce come to Louisville and bring their own unique perspectives to the city, there are also students from Louisville who embark on impactful education journeys away from the United States.

  • • •

Upon entering his new dorm room, eight roommates greeted Arian Chopra, 20. After their first interaction, Chopra noted that there were many conflicting personalities all gathered in the same, tight space. Chopra was used to living alone and sleeping by himself, so living with eight roommates was a difficult adjustment. New to Florence, Italy, Chopra had to get used to this lifestyle if he wanted to enjoy his experience as a study abroad student.

Chopra, a senior at UofL studying medicine, was enrolled in the International Studies Institute (ISI) in Florence during the 2022-2023 school year. While UofL has their own study abroad program, they did not have contact with the program that Chopra wanted in Florence. So an advisor at UofL contacted an advisor at Arcadia University in Pennsylvania, a university with renowned study abroad programs and has direct contact with ISI Florence. Arcadia put Chopra into contact with ISI Florence, and he was able to begin his journey in Italy. 

Similar to Boyce, when Chopra began his study abroad journey, he was faced with conflicting feelings of excitement and hesitation. 

“It didn’t really feel real until I got on the plane to Paris, then I started second guessing myself. ‘Can I actually live by myself? Can I afford this?’” Chopra said. 

For some study abroad students, these questions are unshakable in the process of moving. However, Chopra gradually shed his doubt, slowly becoming accustomed to the culture of Florence. Attending classes and exploring the new city with his fellow roommates, Chopra noticed things in Florence that were unique to the city.

“One big thing, like socially, is that people are a lot more likely to touch you — they’ll give you a hug, even if you don’t know them,” Chopra said. “In America, you would consider it inappropriate, but in Italy, it’d be more friendly.” 

This was one of the many Italian norms that he attributed to their laid-back environment.

“You feel a rush to get somewhere or be working in Louisville, but in Italy you could feel that everybody was content with chilling out and talking in the middle of the day,” Chopra said. 

Typically, after class, Chopra would walk by himself or with his friends.

“In Florence, everything was like a 20-25 minute walk, which I miss,” Chopra said. 

Instead of having to do something or go somewhere, Chopra would find himself sipping on a cup of coffee, gazing at the Florencians tending to their daily tasks, or lack thereof. This type of environment brought Chopra to some realizations. 

“Going to Florence made me realize that everybody has their own life,” Chopra said. “Life isn’t about what you achieve; it’s about how you live it day-by-day.” 

The relaxed mentality and social atmosphere of Florence contributed to Chopra’s mental wellness by removing the constant pressure of his fast-paced life in America. 

“I was the healthiest I’ve ever been,” Chopra said. 

Not only did the environment of Florence contribute to his improved mental health, but Chopra found that its emphasis on local, organic food bettered his physical health. He believed that if the U.S. shared Italy’s prioritization of locally sourced food, that it would be a much healthier country. Still, on occasion, he sought the comfort of burgers, fries, and store-bought chicken tenders.

“I would make sure to, once a week, have some sort of American meal to kind of keep my homesickness away,” Chopra said. 

Despite the changes in scenery, both Chopra and Boyce could appreciate Louisville’s big city yet suburban feel. They noted the significance of Louisville’s unique features compared to those of Ireland and Italy. 

“I missed that local aspect of my hometown — the southern hospitality,” Chopra said. 

While Chopra and Boyce have both positive and negative takeaways from studying abroad, they acknowledge it as an impactful experience. Both Chopra and Boyce have gone out of their comfort zones, forcing them to reflect on their upbringing, while appreciating the culture they immersed themselves in during their time away. Boyce picked up on aspects of Louisville that a native would not have been able to recognize, while Chopra learned about a foreign city, and in doing so, gained a newfound appreciation for his own.

“The cultural significance of Florence is definitely better than Louisville, but I still love Louisville,” Chopra said. “It’s home.” 

For Chopra and Boyce, it seemed like just yesterday that they received goodbye cards that would quickly turn into welcome home signs. Through their lessons and experiences, study abroad students will continue to strengthen the lives and cultures of both themselves and the people around them. 

“I wish we lived in a world where everybody had to study abroad before they graduated,” Chopra said.

 

  • Writing: Luke Boggs
  • Design: Terra Dempsey
  • Photo: Emma Johnson

 

 

 

 

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About the Contributors
Luke Boggs, Writer
Luke Boggs is a sophomore reporter for On The Record. This is Luke’s first year on staff and he’s excited to discover what being on a magazine is like. Luke is involved in speech and debate, volleyball, and his job at Playa Bowls.
Terra Dempsey, Designer
Terra Dempsey is a sophomore and a Designer for On The Record. This is her first year on staff and she is thrilled to gain more design experience. She is a part of Girl Up and jumps for Manual's track team. Terra loves listening to boygenius, rock climbing, and hiking in her free time.
Emma Johnson, Photographer
Emma Johnson is a junior Photographer for On The Record. This is her first year in staff and she is excited to develop her photography and editing skills. Outside of school she enjoys writing short stories, listening to music, and hanging out with her friends.
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