Vail Daily column: A worldly perspective
January 16, 2013
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Christian Nichols, a Battle Mountain alumnus, just finished his semester abroad in Thessaloniki, Greece. Nichols graduated from Battle Mountain in May of 2012 and was chosen for the NUin program at Northeastern University. Northeastern University is a private, innovative institution located in the heart of Boston. A leader in experiential education, Northeastern’s cooperative education program (nicknamed co-op) is world renowned and was founded over a century ago requiring students to alternate semesters of academic study with semesters of full-time employment in positions related to their career interests. The idea is that students are learning in the classroom while building their resumes simultaneously.
Northeastern accepts 400 freshman into their NUin program to study abroad at a partnering institution for their freshman semester. The NUin Program is very different from a traditional study abroad experience. The NUin program is a structured environment customized specifically for first-year students allowing them to grow as globally aware, independent, mature, and confident individuals. Throughout this program, the staff encourages students to find their own voice and develop their maturity and independence.
Students take a typical freshman workload including one class that enlightens their global experience helping to form their own perceptions of the world around them. All students also volunteer at a community service site in the country where they are studying. This helps to broaden their understanding of the culture they are immersed in and helps to give back to the community. Nichols studied in Greece from September until December. Below is one of Nichols’ blog entries that he posted before he returned home from Greece.-
Growing up in a small mountain community my whole life, I was definitely not a city kid. I never spent much time in urban environments and was out of my comfort zone in highly populated areas. When it was time to apply to college, I decided I wanted a new adventure and chose to go to school in the best college town in America, Boston! I was excited about the change, but nervous about adjusting to a new lifestyle. Deep down, I was worried because I wasn’t a city kid and I might not be able to adjust.
Being accepted to Northeastern University in Boston was one thing, but learning that I had to start my freshman semester in Thessaloniki, Greece, was another! Four hundred freshmen at Northeastern University are selected into the NUin program and I was one of them. Reluctantly, I headed to Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki, in September.
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I feel more prepared than ever as I anticipate the transition from Greece to Boston for my second semester. The friendships I’ve made and the experiences I’ve had will set me up to have an incredibly successful semester in Boston. I’m positive that I would not have developed the friendships that I’ve established and grown the way I have if it had not been for my semester in Greece.
As I prepared for my semester in Greece, I reviewed many of the past experiences of previous Northeastern NUin students. One of the main themes was that countless students felt they had matured more than they had ever expected. After living on my own in a city halfway around the world with 130 students I had never met, I feel like I too have had amazing personal growth. From planning my own trips to other European countries to doing my own shopping, I feel that I’ve matured and grown up. Not being dependent upon my parents was difficult and at times daunting, but as time went on I felt more and more confident being an independent adult in a foreign country.
There’s an old saying that when you travel you not only get a new perspective on the world, but also a new perspective on home. I am eager to see the extent of how my perspective has changed. After living in an urban jungle for three months, I can only imagine how breathtaking the snow-covered mountains will be to me. The smell of the fresh Colorado air will be sweeter than ever and my bed more comfortable than ever. Being away will surely give me an appreciation for home that I didn’t have before and for that I am extremely grateful.
The way I see it is that I am almost finished with one of the toughest decisions of my life. I just about got as far out of my comfort zone as I could possibly get and I’m still kicking! I have to laugh now thinking that I was worried about the transition to Boston because after my semester abroad, I find myself saying, ‘How hard could it be?'”
Britney Brown is a current resident in Lindesberg, Sweden, as she pursues her professional volleyball career overseas. Brown grew up in Edwards and graduated in 2007 from Battle Mountain High School. She was on the 2006 state championship volleyball team and earned a full-ride scholarship to Northeastern University to play for the Huskies in Boston. In May of 2010, Brown graduated from Northeastern with a bachelor’s degree in business marketing. Brown will be sending stories about Vail Valley young adults exploring the world.-