Student travels for experience, culture

Elsa Kebede, junior from San Clemente, Calif., sits atop the city of Athens in Greece while traveling abroad. || Photo courtesy of Elsa Kebede

Elsa Kebede, junior from San Clemente, Calif., sits atop the city of Athens in Greece while traveling abroad. || Photo courtesy of Elsa Kebede

Murray State is a melting pot of students from all over the world. When the different cultures combine here on campus, the students are a force to be reckoned with. Every student has a story, a background, a reason to be here or there, or wherever their life may lead them.

Elsa Kebede, junior pre-vet student from San Clemente, Calif., chose to study at Murray State from a family connection to the school, despite the 2,000 mile distance from home.

“My mom and dad are both Murray State alumni and they met in the basement of Waterfield,” Kebede said.

As an avid sports player, Murray State’s campus involvement also prompted Kebede’s choice to attend Murray State.

“I played field hockey, lacrosse, soccer and track in high school,” she said. “I got into sports as a way to meet new people, which is why I also play intramural sports here at Murray.”

In her spare time, Kebede enjoys riding horses, a hobby she acquired when she was around 9 years old from a summer camp.

“I unfortunately don’t own any (horses),” she said. “Thankfully my roommate and suitemate own horses and when I go home with them I am able to ride.”

Kebede is also a member of the Honors Program, Honors Program/Springer First Year Leader, Alpha Lambda Delta and the pre-vet club.

As if this resume wasn’t already impressive, Kebede had the opportunity to study abroad in Greece and Italy with her economics class over the winter break.

Kebede has been on many trips and definitely wasn’t new to the experience of traveling out of the country.

“I love to travel,” she said. “But I’m not a big fan of long flights to get to my travel destination. I travel often, both domestically and internationally.”

She added the winter trip to Greece and Italy to a list of destinations she has visited which include Canada, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, St. John’s, Ireland and Ethiopia.

“I’m half Ethiopian,” Kebede said. “My dad is from Ethiopia and came to the United States when he was 18 to go to college. I’ve been to Ethiopia twice: the first time I was 12 and most recently over winter break.”

As a trained veteran of travel, Kebede experiences new things with each trip she takes.

“I would (study abroad) again in a heartbeat,” she said. “I had an absolutely incredible experience with this study abroad. I had studied abroad in high school when my choir went to Ireland, but this experience was better.”

On the trip Kebede’s group visited Rome, Florence, Assisi, Pisa and Ancona. The famous places toured included the Colosseum, the Vatican, St. Peter’s Cathedral, Roman Forums and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

“I was a little wary of staying in the hostels in Florence,” she said. “When my mom studied abroad long ago she stayed in hostels and told me numerous horror stories. However, I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived at the hostel.”

Whether on vacation or studying abroad, Kebede said she loves each experience because they are never the same.

“I love learning about the different cultures and seeing how different things are at each place,” she said.

Kebede suggests traveling and studying abroad to anyone who is given the opportunity.

Said Kebede: “I would definitely recommend studying abroad for a variety of reasons. It’s fun and exciting to visit new places and learn about all of the different cultures. It’s also a great way to make new friends with people you may not have associated with otherwise.”

Faces & Places is a new weekly series that profiles the people and places of Murray. Every person and every place has a story. Let us tell it. If you would like the chance to be featured, email

Story by Hunter Harrell, Staff writer.