Before travelling to the Marshall Islands, Sarah felt unprepared for her journey. The first months living abroad were the hardest of her life. She was overwhelmed by the heat, the poverty, and her living conditions. She also felt constantly "exposed," missing the anonymity on the street that she enjoyed in America. Over time, she came to stop wanting to change things that she could not and to recognize and appreciate the relationships that became to be an essential part of her experience there.
Jaron, an anthropology student, pursued an individual study abroad trip to Peru. His close relationships with family and friends had always been central to his life and identity. In Peru, he felt his nationality, race, and size were all social barriers, leading to a sense of isolation and loneliness. Playing ball one day with some local children helped Jaron break out of his isolation and engage with others.
Meirav went to Japan, after her junior year as a fine arts major. She was having a wonderful-even "magical"-time until a fall while visiting a waterfall shattered her leg. In the hospital, deeply depressed, the words of her roommate and the act of helping a little girl enabled her to move beyond her depression. While the memory of falling still haunts her, she was able to appreciate the growth and the friendships she had developed in Japan.
Though the thought of travelling to Ghana was intimidating, Janelle was comforted by the knowledge that she would be part of a team on her project. But conflicts in the group soon let to both tensions in their living situation and problems working on their project. Janelle took the lead in meeting with the members individually and instituting a regular group "check-in" meeting. While not a cure-all, it alleviated many of the tensions and enabled the group to have a productive and positive experience.