I had the opportunity to complete my Beyond the Classroom experience in Preston England at the University of Central Lancashire. My time abroad greatly contributed to my understanding of my global theme and potential capstone project. The global theme I choose is culture and politics. A prospective challenge that my group and I want to explore is the differences in pay and experiences of women compared to their male counterparts in the University of Montana faculty system. Through my Beyond the Classroom experience I was able to take two courses that relate to my theme and challenge. The course I took that related to my theme was Cultural Communications which covered content relating to the different aspects of culture and how culture can vary from place to place. This course reviewed the ins and outs of culture and specifically how to analyze and better understand new cultures. The course I took that related to the prospective challenge was Diversity, Crime, and Justice. While this may not seem like it relates to the challenge in the grand scheme of things it actually does. I was able to learn about different diversities, especially how being someone who identifies as a woman, can unfortunately enhance someone’s interaction with crime and injustice. Learning the background of various diversities individuals face in life has better equipped me to contribute knowledge to our group for our capstone. Outside of coursework I was able to gain insight into my theme and challenge through my experience by immersing myself into the English culture and visiting different countries to learn firsthand about their cultures.
I definitely have a better understanding of the diverse perspectives relating to my theme and challenge of culture and politics. I have gone abroad before and experienced different cultures but never with the knowledge I have gained from FGLI and its related courses. Through the various courses I have taken for FLGI along with the course I took while abroad, Cultural Communications, I have been able to utilize this knowledge so that I can better understand diverse perspectives and cultures. Living in and traveling around Europe has taught me that just because the countries are close together geographically does not mean that their cultures are in any way similar. Each and every country that I had the privilege of visiting was completely different from one another. From the laid-back lifestyle of the United Kingdom to the socially busy and interactive lifestyle of Portugal I have experienced a wide variety of cultures. My Beyond the Classroom experience was exactly what I needed to have a real-life example of the variety of cultures in the world and how understanding these cultures is highly important to finding the solutions to the world’s problems.
Studying and traveling abroad by yourself is a great test for anyone`s leadership skills and it definitely put mine to the test. Being alone in a new country is a huge challenge and one that I found to be fun to tackle. While at times being alone was scary it also provided me with the great opportunity to use my leadership and problem-solving skills. I was able to utilize what I have learned from the FGLI retreat and other courses about my leadership style to interact with new people from other cultures with minimal stress. While in the states I usually have no problem taking the lead in situations things are different in other countries, so I worked hard on being the same person who can take charge in a challenging situation. I encountered many travel hiccups during my time in the United Kingdom and by utilizing my leadership skills I was able to navigate and find solutions to many of my travel issues.