Hello! I’m Maddie Shifflett and I am currently a Senior majoring in Global Studies and minoring in Business. This past semester I had the chance to complete my internship and study abroad in South Africa. As a cold/winter lover, I never imagined I would study abroad in Africa- especially since this was technically my first actual experience abroad. Furthermore, my interest in national security also gave me thoughts of pursuing a study abroad in Europe- or anywhere but South Africa truthfully. Yet, this is what I have come to believe as one of the greatest benefits of my study abroad.
Ironically, all my abroad experiences have essentially been places I never imagined going. It started when I was young and went to Juarez City, Mexico for a day, then last semester in South Africa, and finally being able to travel to the Czech Republic for three weeks afterward. The fact I never considered going to these places is ultimately what made them the best experiences. Though studying abroad in a completely unknown place by myself was truly nerve-wracking, I now look back and understand how lucky I was to have a completely unique experience. While in South Africa studying at Stenden University I learned many things about many different cultures, similarities and differences worldwide, and many things about myself. Learning about Disaster Management in a hands-on environment was truly enlightening and even helped me discover an interest in that field. I also was given the opportunity to be in a completely immersive environment providing many new experiences and friendships.
The Global Studies curriculum also set me up for success while studying abroad. Throughout our studies at Auburn University, we use problem-based learning to gather relevant information, develop comprehensive solutions, and write concise deliverables. While at Stenden University, I used my knowledge and experience in approaching their similar style of problem-based learning and deliverables. Through my personal experiences and The Global Studies curriculum, I was also able to better prepare myself to deal with being alone in a drastically different environment, forming relationships across different cultures, and being able to better integrate my experiences in to my current life. Just the other day I was thinking about how I missed living in a very close-knit community where I could hang-out with other students at any time of day or where I could drive down the road seeing giraffes and monkeys. Honestly, being abroad made it so much easier for me try new things and get out of my comfort zone- like when I learned how to surf. Moreover, Global Studies helped provide me life-altering experiences and a community of like-minded helpers- who will probably always be entwined as we go forward in our life’s centered around helping better the world through our many different passions.