Haley studied in Israel on the University of Haifa Program.
If you could give only one reason, why would you suggest other students study abroad?
You can’t begin to understand the perspectives of others or the richness of different experiences until you immerse yourself in a different culture. To be more understanding and more adaptive, one should study abroad.
What experiences did you have while studying abroad that you feel you could not have had if you had stayed at Penn State?
I was able to talk with a few of the leaders at the local Mosque who were so open and willing to discuss their faith with me. I was able to practice my Arabic while socializing. I was able to discuss the Arab-Israeli conflict with Arab and Israeli people my age and a little older and gain a perspective of it I otherwise would not have.
What advice would you give to outbound study abroad students to help them make the most out of their study abroad experiences?
Aim to ensure the majority of friends you make overseas are not from the United States. Get involved with local volunteer programs and clubs of any sort in order to see an aspect of local culture you might otherwise not. Get outside as often as possible.
Share an experience where you interacted with someone in your host culture in a way that taught you something.
One of the classes I attended required us to go on a field trip to the local Mosque. An Imam gave us a tour and then discussed the way he came to be a Muslim himself. He talked about his own experiences with God and the way he ran his household as a leader and what was important to him- the whole spiel. From a Christian background, I am familiar with religious life, and so I was not surprised to hear about this man’s path to God and some of the obstacles he had to face. However, by the end of the discussion, after I had asked some questions, for the first time in my life I felt I was discussing the matter of spirituality with someone outside of my own faith in a way that was wholly understanding and productive. It seems insubstantial if you don’t know of my own long and fitful journey with faith, but just know that this experience seemed like the confirmation to a long wrestled thought- that it is gratitude, faith in that which is bigger than us, and a love for all people that brings humans together and provides hope. I would not have seen it in this light, at least not for a long while, had I not gone to Israel this semester.