International Connections


Grace Sparks

Major: Child, Adult, and Family Services



Year: Junior
Hometown, State: Iowa

Type of experience: Study Abroad
Experience: Arcadia University College of Global Studies - Scottish History, Summer
Experience website: https://isuabroad.iastate.edu/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=11997
Destination: Edinburgh, Scotland

Overall experience..
During my program I spent four weeks abroad in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland. While I was there I took a general Scottish History course that encompassed all aspects of the country’s history up until present day. My course also included weekly travel days where I was given the opportunity to site see around the country. My time abroad included aspects that allowed me to really become a part of the culture while only being there for a short time.

I learned...
I first learned about this international opportunity through the Iowa State Study Abroad website. I started looking at summer courses that fit my schedule and then contacted an adviser in the offices. Meeting with an adviser helped me learn about more options that I didn't know where available to me and helped me to solidify my destination as well as required materials to get me there.

An impact to my life...
This experience has broadened my horizons as what it means to fully take every opportunity while you have it. I learned more about the person I was and my ability to overcome my fears of being alone in a new place. It will set me up to be better equipped in my future when I am thrown into new situations. This experience has allowed me to believe in my abilities a little more and taught me to take the bull by the horns and not be scared of what's out there.

I will never forget...
The most memorable experience I had was on one of our guided tours that I took with my class. We ventured out into the countryside to the location of Cairnpapple Hill, which was the site for significant ceremonies and burials for thousands of years. We bused over long windy roads until we ended up at the bottom of a hill. I didn't question our destination until I began trekking up this cow pasture and started really wondering where in the world my professor was taking us. We made it on a relatively sunnier day (which isn't saying much for Scotland) but the views were still incredible. On a clear day you can see the entire country, coast to coast, from this point. I don't think I'll ever forget that feeling.

Advice for others...
My number one piece of advice when thinking about studying abroad is to not wait. Don't be scared to leave because you're afraid of missing out on things that are going on back home. Studying abroad is worth missing a football season, or your friend’s graduation or having to stay an extra semester. Ames and Iowa State will be here to come back to. No, it isn't for everyone, but if you are seriously considering going abroad, don't let the fear of missing out get in the way. You'll miss more by not going.

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