Global Trekkers: Study abroad club creates community among students

By Da’Sha Tuck, Staff writer

Students who have studied abroad or are interested in doing so now have a central hub where they can connect with other students who have the same interests: the Global Trekkers club.

Club Adviser Melanie McCallon Seib, Murray State Education Abroad director, said the club began with a group of peer advisers, students who have studied abroad, who wanted a way to keep in touch.

She said those students wanted a way to share their experiences with others who had similar experiences.

“When a student studies abroad and they come home, nobody that they know at home knows what they just went through and knows what that experience was like,” Seib said.

Who are the Global Trekkers?

The club is brand new and has only had two meetings. It is open to anyone interested in learning more about the world.

Since the club is just getting started, the officers have not planned any events but plan to be involved with campus through social events, fundraising for future students who want to study abroad, promote study abroad programs, connect with international students and more, Seib said.

Seib said the group has some really exciting ideas and she is excited to see what happens.

Meetings are held every two weeks on Tuesdays at 5 p.m. in the Woods Hall lobby. The next meeting will be Nov. 15.

What it means to the students

Alyssa Allen, junior from Mount Vernon, Kentucky, was elected as the Global Trekker’s 2016 treasurer. She studied abroad in 2015 in Regensburg, Germany.

She said when she came back home “reverse culture shock” was a real challenge for her.

“I felt that I had changed so much and was grateful for my experience, but people could not understand that and old friends started to feel like strangers,” Allen said.

Allen believes this new club will help future students who study abroad in many different ways.

“If you have studied abroad before, especially if you have just returned, it will give you a community of people who have been through what you are going through; a place to make connections, share stories without feeling like you are bragging, and a place to, perhaps, find future travel buddies,” Allen said.

The club will be beneficial to those students who are interested in studying abroad in the future. Learning the dos and don’ts, cultural differences and talking through safety concerns with a community of students who have been there can help with the transition, Allen said.

Erin Wallace, senior club member from Louisville, Kentucky, described the new club as being geared toward global-minded students.

She said the club hopes to connect various students and faculty through their common interest in experiencing different cultures.

“Hopefully we will create an environment that will spark interest throughout the campus about different cultures and countries,” Wallace said. “I am really looking forward to seeing how this club grows and develops over the coming semesters.”

Making Study Abroad Feasible

Last year, Seib said, 333 students studied abroad and 100 percent of them received partial scholarships. She said the average awarded amount was $1,200.

There are trips that last for a week and others that last for an entire semester.

Seib said some programs abroad cost less than being on Murray State’s campus for a semester.

“I look at things and think how do we not have students banging down the door to go on these programs,” Seib said. “We have loads of opportunities that are the same cost as Murray State or cheaper that we are hoping to get more students interested in.”

To students who are on the edge of studying abroad, Seib said, she would want to first find out why students are on the fence.

A lot of times it comes down to parents not being sure about the safety of the trips, students thinking they will fall behind academically or students feeling like they can’t study abroad without speaking a foreign language fluently, Seib said.

All of these concerns can be sorted out. Seib said the Education Abroad Office has great resources for parents. Also there are programs students can go on where it is necessary to speak another language. 

“It is unfortunate that not a lot of people get to have this experience,” Seib said. “We are hoping that with this group, it is a student group and whatever they decide their goals are, we are going to help support them.”

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