Study Abroad: Ashley Owens

Ashley Owen in front of Giant's Causeway

Students in the College of Business and Technology (CBT) are taking advantage of Eastern Kentucky University’s study abroad programs. CBT students are studying abroad through a variety of affiliates and exchange programs.

Following is the next in the Study Abroad Series aimed at sharing students’ life-changing experiences studying abroad through EKU. 

Study Abroad Series: Part Five – Ashley Owens

Q - What is your major? Are you currently a junior or senior, and when is your expected graduation date?

A - I am a junior journalism major and my expected graduation date is Dec. 2016.

Q - Where did you go?

A - I went to Ireland. It was a traveling trip, so we didn't stay in just one place in Ireland. We went to Dublin, Galeway, Belfast and Sligo.

Question - Did you take a course and earn academic credit that transferred back to EKU?

A - I took Irish Literature while in Ireland. The course transferred back to EKU, but it doesn't show up as a course under my major. I don't remember exactly what it shows up as, but I think it shows up as some type of elective. But there are options to study abroad in courses related to your major. I was going to go for international journalism but the class was cancelled because there weren't enough sign-ups for that class. So they put me in my second option class instead. 

Question - Was your experience through the Magellan Exchange – or some other study abroad program?

A - The program I went through was Cooperative Center for Study Abroad (CCSA).

Question - How long did you study abroad? 

A - I was there for two weeks, which was why it was a travel trip.

Question - Why did you decide to study abroad?

A - Traveling has always been one of my dreams. It's something I want to spend my life doing. One day I was walking by Powell Corner and there was a study abroad fair going on. I stopped by and grabbed some brochures. Then I found one through CCSA with trips I could easily afford. Once I talked to my parents about it I knew I had to go. It was great because not only did I get to follow my dream of traveling, but I also got credit for school with it as well.

Question - How did you decide to go to that particular location?

A - I actually sought out brochures with trips specifically to Ireland. Ever since I was a kid I have been obsessed with Ireland -  its gorgeous landscape, the music, the culture. I've always loved everything about Ireland. And it just happened to be that Ireland was one of the cheaper trips through CCSA. So, my mind was made up the second I saw Ireland as one of the choices.

Question - What were three of the most important things you learned from your experience studying abroad?

A - The three most important things I learned from my experience: One, there are so many cultures besides my own in this world. This trip was only two weeks, so it was just a small glimpse at just how big this world is and how small I am in it. There are cultures, backgrounds and lives all around us and it is wrong to assume mine is the only one that really matters. Two, befriending people with different backgrounds feels incredible. I met so many Irish people, even if it was only passing by them on the street and talking for just a few minutes. Everyone of the people I met had a story to tell and it was amazing to hear how different their lives were from mine. Yet, we were still able to bond, despite those differences. Three, everyone should get a glimpse outside of their own world. I always thought I was an adventurous person, but once I stepped foot outside my own country I realized the world had so much to offer. There are experiences and memories to be made outside our own backyards, and everyone should have the opportunity to find those moments for themselves.

Question - What was your favorite and least favorite part of your abroad experience?

A - My favorite thing about the trip was the culture shock. That probably sounds weird, but I loved feeling out of my element. I almost felt like I was in a twilight zone, at least for the first day or two. But I loved that feeling because it meant I was experiencing a different kind of life, which meant I'd have new memories and life lessons to take home with me. My least favorite part was definitely the jet lag. I had never travelled on a plane before this trip, so I always thought jet lag was just some myth people made up as an excuse to sleep. But then I experienced it myself, and it is definitely not a myth. It is very real, and it is very agonizing.

Question - What did you gain from studying abroad that has changed you as a person and professional?

A - From this trip, I've learned to be more respectful to others. I can't expect everyone to have the same culture as me, the same background as me or the same childhood and way of life as me. I learned to respect other cultures and get a glimpse into others' backgrounds rather than staying wrapped up in my own little world. Everyone has a different story to tell and to share those stories is a way of growing as a person and learning how to understand other people.

Question - Would you recommend other College of Business and Technology students to study abroad? Why or why not?

A - I 100% recommend studying abroad to College of Business and Technology students. Studying abroad was one of my greatest experiences and I wish everyone could have the chance to know what it feels like. As if the life changing experiences aren't enough, the site seeing, the new food choices and the authenticity of places around the world should be persuasive enough. What I mean by authenticity is that America is known as the "melting pot", which I never really noticed until I went to Ireland. In America we blend foods and cultures and everything else about other countries together; but by studying abroad you get to experience all of these things right at the source, in the authentic sense.

Question – Who do students contact if they are interested in studying abroad?

A - If students are interested in studying abroad, the best person to contact is Jennifer White, EKU's study abroad coordinator, at ekuabroad@eku.edu. EKU also has a website you can go to: studyabroad.eku.edu

Question – What advice would you give to College of Business and Technology students before they go study abroad?

A - My advice for students interested in studying abroad is to make the move. I know that sounds so simple, but that's honestly how simple it is. Yes, there are factors to think about. Is there a course applicable to me I can take studying abroad? Can I get enough financing to study abroad? These are questions you definitely need to figure out. But what I advise is to go to the study abroad office and just ask about their options. There will be someone there willing to help you figure out what steps you need to take to study abroad.

Question – Since you have not graduated, how is your study abroad experience helping you with your job search?  How has it helped you network with potential employers?

A - Like I said, my graduation is set for Dec. 2016, but I've started looking at job options now so I'm ready to find a job by the time Dec. 2016 gets here. I have a LinkedIn account, which in simple terms is just a way of networking with people to find jobs and contacts in the work force you are interested in. On my LinkedIn I have the chance to say I studied abroad in Ireland, which opens a whole new door of questions and interest to potential employers. Because I am a journalism major, I need to be acquainted with the world around me. Studying abroad is a perfect way to get acquainted with the world, so that's something a potential employer may be interested in. Honestly, all jobs need to be acquainted with the world and the people around them. So, studying abroad would look good to just about any potential employer out there.

More photos from Ashley Owens' Study Abroad experience...

Find out more about Study Abroad:

Students interested in studying abroad may contact Jennifer White at the Study Abroad Office in the Whitlock Building, Room 455, to discuss all the program options. Jennifer can be contacted via phone at 859-622-1705 or by email at ekuabroad@eku.edu.

Find out more about the Journalism major. Contact Dr. Fran Dickson, Chair of the Department of Communication via phone at 859-622-1871 or by email at fran.dickson@eku.edu.

Published on October 29, 2014