Study Abroad Opportunities On The Horizon
To study abroad or not to study abroad, that is the question that has plagued the minds of Pacific students since the program came to be. For some, an easy question, as it is required for foreign language majors. For others, a bit more difficult.
Looking for answers? Start with the International Programs Office, located in Pacific Hall. Or, try asking someone who’s been there, done that.
Just last year Sophia Jackson ‘23 was starting this process in order to study abroad in Mexico and fulfill her Spanish major requirement. She always knew she wanted to study abroad while in college—and, moreover, she hopes to practice immigration law in the future. “I wanted to be able to come home from my time abroad better understanding their needs and experiences” Jackson stated.
She started her time abroad in the small rural town of Tapalpa Jalisco, west from Mexico City; there, she conducted research with a local herbal medicines cooperative and the impacts they have on their community. She also studied at two universities: La Universidad de Modelo and La Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán.
“It’s a really great experience,” she said, “as it teaches you a lot about yourself and where you come from, giving you a perspective you never have been able to cultivate otherwise.” She added, that she now feels like “home is not just in Washington or in Oregon, but in the winding, mountainous roads of Tapalpa and the beaches of Yucatán too.”
But reaching this feeling did not come the first day she arrived. There were adjustments and some culture shock. There were little things like turning on gas to take a hot shower and catching a bus to get to school, but perhaps most impactful ones were when she faced challenges to her own American values.
Once, she was lost, trying to find a seafood market in town when a kind woman offered her help; Jackson felt this would not be a typical in the United States; she realized she was no longer in a strikingly individualistic society like the United States, but a more community-oriented place where this offer to help was a gesture of kindness, and not one of doubt regarding Jackson’s ability to do things on her own.
Pacific University offers both term-long opportunities, like Jackson’s program, as well as plenty of opportunities for short-term travel classes. For example, last summer, Megan Zirelli ‘24 studied anthropology in Trinidad and Tobago; it was the perfect opportunity to put her learning to use. She had never traveled abroad before, and she was able to interview strangers to better understand them, and she conducted a research project looking at the concept of mindfulness in the Trinidadian population. “It is a great way to expand knowledge, apply learned skills outside of the classroom and gain experience and perspective in general,” she said.
— Luciana Linares
Picture: Sophia Jackson at an old paper factory in Jalisco Mexico
Picture Credit: Sophia Jackson