The world looks a little different for Miami students Anna Rickard and Luke Thorton after studying abroad in predominantly white, English speaking countries.
“It’s totally crazy how much bigger the world feels after leaving the states,” said Rickard, a junior English major studying in Dublin, Ireland.
Rickard said the initial culture shock she experienced upon arriving in Ireland was difficult to overcome at first, stating that food, class structure and even money felt new to her.
“They use euros in Ireland, so for the first few weeks I felt like I was just using monopoly money,” Rickard said.
Despite the bumpy start, she eventually came to feel at home in the culture of which she was now a part.
“In the end, we’re all people,” Rickard said. “I came to realize that just because you drive on the other side of the road doesn’t mean you won’t reach the destination.”
Thorton experienced a similar culture shock during his time abroad.
“I wanted to challenge myself,” said Thorton, a first-year finance major. “I chose not to do the Luxembourg program because I thought it was too safe. It was too alike what I was used to experiencing here at Miami.”
Thorton instead chose to participate in a winter, J-term, program based in Toronto, Canada.
“It was for sure different, as it was not the United States,” Thorton said. “I could drink legally there, which was a very interesting cultural change that I had to adjust to.”
Both students found their time abroad helped open their eyes to the diversity of the world, as well as expose them to new cultural experiences.
“One kid in my class grew up with parents who taught him French before English,” Thorton said. “That was so interesting to hear, and almost difficult to wrap my head around at first.”
Language played an important role in Rickard’s experience as well.
“Even though they speak English in Ireland, the accent basically makes it a different language,” she said. “I finally understood what it was like to live with a language barrier.”
Even though the experience came with its fair share of challenges, Rickard and Thorton ultimately agreed studying abroad is an incredible opportunity to more fully appreciate the world.
“You just really can’t appreciate how diverse the world is until you immerse yourself in a culture different from your own,” Thorton said.