Published Nov. 22, 2013

Study Abroad Awards Ceremony

The winners of the annual Study Abroad Essay Contest are guests of honor at Friday's Study Abroad Awards Ceremony, 3 p.m., Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center. Watch for the traveling photo exhibit around campus.

Tyler Patterson encourages students to take opportunity and study abroad

Tyler Patterson, a third year law student graduating in December, is the first place winner of Washburn’s annual Study Abroad Essay Contest. Watch for the traveling photo exhibit around campus.

Patterson loves to travel, covering 30 countries in Europe, Asia and Africa during a six month trek when he was 24. When he learned of Washburn School of Law’s annual summer program in Barbados, he said: “It was an easy sell.”

“The program was amazing,” he said. Patterson, from Wichita, said getting to know the culture over his months in Barbados was a positive change from his previous travel style. But no matter how you travel, Patterson said the important thing is to seize the moment. 

“I really would encourage people to study abroad while they still can. Once you’re out of college, it’s so difficult to get the opportunity to do something like this.”

Contact Tina Williams, study abroad coordinator, at the International House to learn more about the study abroad programs available to you. Travel for a few weeks on a faculty-lead experience, for a summer, semester or year-long stay and it is more affordable than you think. Washburn commits more scholarship funds to study abroad than any other university in Kansas. Put simply, an undergraduate student who declares an International Education Washburn Transformational Experience will receive scholarship money.

Consider Patterson’s experience and take the opportunity of a lifetime.

The figure of a man is visible, between the ocean and a palm tree, but the focus of this striking image is the blue-green ocean. It is beautifully contrasted with the lush, bright green of the land.

An Island Built on Principle

Approaching the island of Barbados by air at 10,000 feet, was like staring at the canvas of a masterpiece. My eyes raced to fill in the details of the world that would soon surround me. The water in the ocean was a mix of colors: neon blue, deep navy, and white crests of waves that appeared to slowly inch towards the shore from the plane. When we landed, I was on a mission to get through customs as quickly as possible and start exploring island life. The Bajans I encountered on my way to the customs line had a melodic accent that put a smile on my face. The smile didn’t stay long.

While waiting for the customs line to proceed, my backpack felt noticeably lighter. My heart sank when it hit me: I had left another bag with my toiletries, socks, and underwear in the overhead compartment on the airplane. I cut back through customs and tried to find my way back to the tarmac where I hoped the plan was still parked. I had to be cautious because it was a foreign country and I was aware of the strict security guidelines at U.S. Airports. An employee of the airline approached me and asked “can I help you hun?” After hearing my story, she walked out to the plane and returned a few minutes later with a big smile on her face waving at me, holding out my bag in her hand.

With each adventure or adversity you encounter studying abroad, you are forced outside your comfort zone. Obstacles are common in unfamiliar territories, and at times it seems inevitable something will go wrong. Unplanned events, hiccups in life abroad, become a part of the adventure. Class was interrupted one day when a monkey was pounding on the window at our school. We took a break for a minute to observe the monkey’s antics.

Students considering studying abroad in Barbados can expect a taste of island life. My expectations of the island were based on a visit to another third-world country in Caribbean. I couldn’t have been more wrong: Bajans kept the island immaculately clean and they were very proud of their colorful cultural heritage. Barbados was a British colony until 1961, and elements of British society still appear through the form of mandatory school uniforms and proper attire, even at the beach. The Bajan culture also placed a heavy emphasis on schooling, which was reflected in the country’s 97% literacy rate.

Whether you choose to study in Barbados or Brazil, learning a different culture will broaden your perspective of the world. Students who study abroad become more knowledgeable in this regard, they are conditioned to face difficult challenges in life and move forward knowing things will work out in the end. It’s the Caribbean mantra: “don’t worry, be happy.”