By Mylie Miller ’19
A Pacific Lutheran University student, who never left home until college, found herself studying abroad during her junior year, 2016, and senior year, 2017, to narrow down her major studies choice.
Shannon Duffy, senior, was a girl who loved her family and rarely was gone from home for more than two weeks until she attended PLU. One of the most impactful attributes of PLU is the study abroad program. It enables a student to travel to a different country to experience and explore a brand new culture while going to school.
According to the Pacific Lutheran University study abroad program, PLU offers a variety of study away program options to make this important component of a PLU education accessible to as many students as possible. Narrow your search by exploring your options by academic discipline, program features, location, duration and cost.
Although Duffy was committed to both her business major and Hispanic studies minor, she found that studying abroad at Pacific Lutheran University would specify her focus within both.
It wasn’t until January of her senior year, 2017, that Duffy would find a passion for her major through traveling to London, England. Before visiting England, Duffy first studied in Barcelona, Spain in spring semester of her junior year.
Barcelona, Spain was a top choice for Duffy simply because of her minor. Duffy remembered breaking her habit of “babbling” because she would have to actually think before she spoke. Duffy acclimated to the culture, to the best of her abilities, and spoke Spanish for more than an hour a day.
“I had to get over my fear of speaking Spanish to people,” Duffy said. “I myself do not know how to think before I speak, so I never knew what to say in Spanish.”
Not only did Duffy learn how to adapt her speaking habits, her style of learning was enhanced and refigured. Duffy said her Barcelona trip impacted her academic life because it helped her realize that she learned in a more hands on manner made her learn more effectively.
“I retained way more from going out and physically looking and walking around,” said Duffy. “I believe it sticks way more when you are seeing and doing at the same time.”
She said this particular studying abroad experience drove her passion for travel, culture, and business.
“Leaving Spain was one of the hardest things I have ever done,” Duffy said. “I have never left anything behind before.”
According to Duffy’s best friend and housemate Jessica Wagner, senior, studying abroad enhanced Duffy’s personality and passions.
“Shannon has always had an adventurous spirit. I find myself frequently bringing her back to reality because she just dreams so big. After living in Spain, it was even more pronounced,” said Wagner.
Duffy said her next adventure to London challenged her beliefs of education and what she truly valued for her career and life beyond college. During January of her senior year, Duffy would have to choose between studying in London to finish just her general education or staying at PLU and finishing both her general education and credits for her minor.
“I thought it was more important to say I went to London to study rather than saying I took eight classes for a Spanish minor to go on a resume,” said Duffy.
Her decision to choose London over her minor was an impactful moment in Duffy’s life. Duffy said her main goal of the minor was to simply be able to understand and provide simple, casual conversation in Spanish. She achieved this from the Hispanic courses she took and actually doing so in Barcelona. Duffy said she did not feel the need to finish out the minor to be printed out on a piece of paper later on in life.
From both of her trips, Duffy learned new attributes about herself and her abilities. Her passion for traveling drove her to a specified type of business study for her major, and soon, her career after PLU.
“Studying abroad showed me that I want to do business internationally,” Duffy said.
Pacific Lutheran University’s study away program represented to Duffy the ability to step out of one’s comfort zone, and to leave the house for more than two weeks, helped shape her academic life and her career potential in the real world.