Lehigh offers over 250 study abroad programs in over 60 countries, such as India, China, France, Italy and Ghana, according to the Office of International Affairs website. The Brown and White had the opportunity to profile a few students who studied abroad this semester to reflect on their experiences.
Student: Stephanie Huynh, ’20
Studying in: Chiang Mai, Thailand
While Huynh has had her share of transformative stories at Lehigh as an international relations major, she knew that she would have to take a big step outside of her comfort zone. Huynh’s arrival in Chiang Mai did just that.
Huynh said she immediately was faced with a great cultural shift when she was on the road for the first time.
“Motorbikes, cars, and large tourist vans share the roads that have no traffic lights, and people don’t use their blinkers, which makes things fun for me trying to cross the street,” Huynh said. “So even though I’m in one of the safest cities, it’s been an adjustment dealing with the motorcyclists weaving through traffic.”
Huynh is studying through The Education Abroad Network, a program offering study abroad experience at one of 30 different universities in the Asia-Pacific region.
Alongside 17 other students in the Chiang Mai cohort, Huynh has been able to experience the country within a close-knit group of peers.
“Because we have a small number of students, our advisers are able to take us on weekend excursions already covered by our program fee, a feat that would have been impossible with a large group,” Huynh said. “We’ve been able to get free Thai massages, tours of waterfalls at Doi Inthanon Park and a trip to the Golden Triangle.”
With a semester’s worth of experience under her belt, Huynh struggled to choose a single favorite experience.
“A trip that has stood out was traveling to Singapore and visiting the places where they shot ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’ Huynh said. “Singapore was easily the best city I’ve ever been to because their transportation was top notch, and their culture surrounding cleanliness was eye-opening. Not to mention that their Indian food is to die for.”
A year ago, Huynh said she would not have guessed that she would be spending a semester in Thailand.
Her destination of choice was less conventional, and she recommends that other students explore the program in the future.
While I did have to petition for this program, I’d recommend it to any and everyone interested in a program that emphasizes cultural immersion,” Huynh said.
Student: Taylor Ingerman, ’20
Studying in: Seville, Spain
Ingerman picked up on the slow-life fast.
Ingerman chose to spend her spring semester in Seville. She said immersing herself in the slower-paced culture has been eye-opening.
“At home, there’s always something to do,” she said. “Here, they very much work to live, whereas we live to work. They’ll make money so that they can spend time doing what they like. That was a big change for me. Even in the middle of the day at 3 p.m., the bars will be filled with young people hanging out, having a beer or smoking a cigarette.”
Ingerman spends her days in Seville taking business-related courses and working for a local company, Comunitaria, which has given her the opportunity to enhance both her business and Spanish-speaking skills.
Comunitaria is a startup company that manages relations between landlords and community members. As a finance intern for the company, Ingerman has been able to report financial projections for the company.
Beyond the office, she said the connections that she has made at the office have been equally rewarding. Ingerman said she enjoys the startup culture and tracking the company’s progress.
Ingerman said working in a Spanish-speaking environment is fun, but difficult at times. She often has to think of creative ways to get her point across in a foreign language.
With the unpredictable nature of a startup, the slow-life that envelops the city is something Ingerman has learned to appreciate.
“The people in Seville value living in the moment,” Ingerman said. “The best memory has just been getting a text saying ‘let’s go meet by the river.’ We’ll just meet up and sit in the plaza, sit in the sun and then from there do whatever the night takes us.”
Student: Zak Schwartz, ’20
Studying in: Edinburgh, Scotland
It wasn’t going to be easy, but Schwartz knew that somehow he would study abroad during his Lehigh experience.
As an environmental engineering student, finding a program took dedication. After a long search, Schwartz finally found his match: Edinburgh, Scotland, and it has not disappointed.
His favorite part, he said, has been meeting new people and learning about a different culture than what he was used to.
“The school work is a lot less stressful here, so I have a lot more free time to go out and explore and meet people,” Schwartz said.
While Schwartz has ample activities to fill his days, getting places has proven to be the biggest culture shock.
“The biggest shock was they drive on the other side of the road, and they don’t stop for you, so I’ve almost been killed like eight times now,” Schwartz said jokingly.
The ability to easily travel throughout Europe has exposed Schwartz to countless cultures and experiences.
Having traveled to London, Dublin, and Cork, Ireland, Schwartz said he has enjoyed meeting people from all over the world.
“All of the places that I’ve gone to have been so much fun,” Schwartz said. “I’ve been staying in hostels with a bunch of random people and hearing about where they come from is really eye-opening and cool.”