Experiences Abroad

Natalie+Landgraf+%28left%29+poses+outside+La+Sagrada+Familia+in+Barcelona%2C+Spain.+Photo+courtesy+Natalie+Landgraf.

Natalie Landgraf (left) poses outside La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain. Photo courtesy Natalie Landgraf.

Studying abroad requires a leap of faith and every experience is different, varying based on country and program. But the global pandemic’s effect on international travel has significantly altered Marquette’s study abroad program.

Natalie Landgraf, a senior in the College of Nursing, studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland, during the spring 2020 semester, when the world shut down. She says that out of all the new and unfamiliar things she experienced away from Milwaukee, getting home last March was the toughest part.

“It took us three hours to get through security,” Landgraf says. “They would bring people into a small room to take their temperature, so everybody was taking Tylenol. It was scary because everybody needed to get home, but you couldn’t get on the plane if you had a temperature.”

But for Landgraf, the positive experiences she had meeting new people and being immersed in different cultures outweighed the negative impact of COVID-19.

“I was able to travel to Scotland, Spain, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Portugal,” Landgraf says. “I built friendships off of standing in line ordering coffee … At some point, I even want to live out there (in Europe) for a while.”

Landgraf and other students who were abroad in the spring semester of 2020 had their time away cut in half, as they found themselves finding trips home mid-March amid lockdowns.

For some students, the pandemic prevented them entirely from joining a program.

Jacob Rose, a senior in the College of Communication, had been hoping to study abroad somewhere in Europe during the fall 2021 semester.

“I was really looking forward to the idea of spending a semester abroad and the pandemic made it tough,” Rose says. “It’s something that I’ll regret not getting the chance to do as a college student, but for those students that come after me, I hope they get the chance to do what I couldn’t.”

Kate Morris, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, studied abroad in Athens, Greece during the fall of 2019. She says she loved her time away and encourages Marquette students to challenge themselves with new experiences.

“It’s about taking your college experience into your own hands. We can live such a normal life at Marquette and it’s good to experience something more than that,” Morris says.

While being abroad can open you up to different people, it can also be hard at times. Culture shock is something many students experience when traveling internationally, whether that’s a new language or different cultural norms. Morris says she felt out of place sometimes during her time in Greece and when she stepped out and visited other places.

“Egypt was definitely a big culture shock because it was very different than the rest of the countries I was in,” Morris says. “It was chaotic and loud with cars honking at every minute of the night.”

But she was also able to see national landmarks like the Egyptian pyramids and the medieval streets of Edinburgh, despite not knowing much about those places.

Studying abroad can challenge students in many ways, but both Landgraf and Morris say they learned something about themselves in the process.

“I feel like I matured a lot while I was there because it was very out of my comfort zone, as study abroad is for most people,” Morris says. “Whenever I was hesitant to do something, I just went ahead and did it.”

“I learned that I love spontaneity,” Landgraf says. “Planning things out is so great but the greatest moments abroad were moments when I would wake up early one morning and run into the city without worrying about time.”

This story was written by Quinn Faeth. He can be reached at quinlan.faeth@marquette.edu.