Education abroad trip to Scotland 'life-changing' for MTSU mass comm student

Apr 29, 2014 at 02:00 am by bryan

Even though her hometown of Smyrna, Tennessee, represents a personal slice of heaven, MTSU sophomore Hannah Morris knows the breath-taking landscapes she’s witnessed in Glasgow, Scotland, this semester aren’t something she could find in the Midstate.

“It is the most beautiful place I have ever been,” states Morris, who is studying this semester at Glasgow Caledonian University as part of the university’s education abroad program. The College of Mass Communication student is majoring in visual communications at MTSU.

Morris said she has enjoyed walking around the city of Glasgow and the surrounding countryside to gain ideas and inspiration for designs that she can use toward her major.

“I've never seen landscapes like I have here, and I don't think I would have found that kind of unique inspiration anywhere else in the United States,” she said via email. “It has been absolutely life-changing to live in another country.”

Morris has traveled all over Scotland since her visit began in January. And though it has rained a lot during that time, the gray skies haven’t overshadowed the thrill of visiting sites such as Edinburgh Castle, St. Andrew’s in the Kingdom of Fife and Galloway Forest Park.

“My experience in Scotland has been absolutely incredible. I've always had a fascination with the United Kingdom, so when I found out that MTSU had a program that would allow me to study here for a semester, I jumped at the opportunity,” she said.

MTSU offers more than 500 education-abroad program options in 65 countries. Scholarships and financial are available.

“Our education abroad participants will not only have a unique academic experience but will also gain confidence, improve foreign language abilities, and be able to demonstrate intercultural communication skills within their future personal, academic and career choices,” said Tiffany Bickers, director of the Office of Education Abroad.

The minimum grade-point average for participation on an approved MTSU education-abroad program is a 2.5 GPA overall combined for the semester/academic year or 2.0 overall combined for the summer or other short term.

“Overall, this experience has challenged me, pushed me out of my comfort zone, and made me more independent,” Morris said. “It has been great fun seeing another part of the world, as well as learning to adapt to the different culture, and how the people live.”

Among other cultural nuances, Morris had to get used to walking on the left side of the sidewalk, saying “cheers” instead of “thank you” and “goodbye,” and learning to live without comforts from home, such as ranch dressing and peanut butter.

Yet overall, Morris said studying abroad has given her a great sense of exploration and curiosity as well.

“I never thought I'd see this part of the world, but after I had the opportunity to study abroad, I now know that these things are possible, and that there is a great big world out there full of fascinating people and things to be explored,” she stated. “I'm very thankful to have been able to come to Scotland for a semester.”

Morris has been taking a feature writing course at Glasgow Caledonian, meaning she’s had to learn and adapt to the writing standards in the U.K. For example, writing words like ‘favorite color’ as ‘favourite colour.’

Although visual communications is not an available major at Glasgow Caledonian, Morris said the other courses she’s taking supplement her minors of film and entrepreneurship.  

Overall, Morris said her studies in Scotland have given her a new perspective on how the U.K. perceives, records and reports the news, “and I will bring that home with me and hopefully be able to provide a unique twist on future assignments at MTSU.”

She encourages any student interested in studying abroad “to go for it.”

“Go, see and do as much as you can while you're abroad,” she said. “You never know when you'll get an opportunity like this again. I'd also advise the student to do as much research as they can about the country they are looking into study in, and take into account how the culture may affect your learning.”

For example, learning to use the metric system for science/math majors, or for mass communication majors like her, learning to write properly in U.K standards.

“It can become very challenging at times, but it's worth it,” she said.