Amanda Cabrera returned recently from studying abroad and talks with TSUTigers.com about her experiences. Cabrera just completed her freshman season as a pitcher for the Tigers and posted a 4.0 GPA in Psychology.
Q: So where did you travel to this summer?
AC: I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Dublin, London and Paris.
Q: How long was the program?
AC: It was a three-week program through TnCis and I studied Developmental Psychology.
Q: How did you find out about this opportunity?
AC: After a meeting with my Honors College advisor he mentioned Dr. Shelton from the Psychology department was offering the program this summer. I knew immediately it was something I wanted to apply for and about a week later I had my application submitted for the program, as well as for a study abroad grant. I received both thanks to the help of a few of my professors who wrote letters of recommendation for me, which I am very grateful.
Q: Besides traveling, what other benefits did you get from the program?
AC: This was awesome for a few reasons. I am a psychology major and I would have had to take this class anyway, so it was fantastic to be able to take the class abroad and get the credits. Also, it was great to study developmental psychology abroad and seeing the history of the cities we visited from a psychological perspective. It was less about the facts and more about the people.
Q: So where did the trip begin?
AC: Our first stop was Dublin, Ireland. Our focus here was to learn about how the potato famine and emigration of Ireland affected kids growing up during that time. We were able to step into a replica of the Jeanie Johnston, a cargo ship used during the evacuation of Ireland to the United States. We learned, miraculously, there were zero casualties during the time it was being used and it taught us a lot about the roots of the famous Irish resilience.
Q: Did you have a favorite moment while in Ireland?
AC: My favorite experience was our five mile hike at Howth Island on Saturday. It took up the whole day and was just absolutely beautiful.
Q: Where did you go next?
AC: Our next stop was London, England. We took a ferry from Dublin to Wales and then we road on a train for four hours into London.
Q: What was the focus in London?
AC: Our focus was talking about how kids during World War II and how they were developed, being away from their parents after their evacuation to rural parts of the country.
Q: Did you meet anyone of interest during this leg of your journey?
AC: We were able to visit the home of a 23 year old man of Lebanese descent to talk about his life growing up in Dubai and his transition to living in London. He talked about how he wasn’t accepted by his classmates because he looked different even though he had grown up in the same place as his peers his entire life. He also helped us understand that the global opinion of Americans is not a great one, but it is up to us (Americans abroad) to show a genuine curiosity and respect for other cultures to slowly start to change peoples’ minds.
Q: What was the key point for you in England?
AC: For me, one of the most important excursions we went on was the Tavistock Institute.
Q: What is the Tavistock Institute?
AC: It is a non-profit organization that compiles statistics on contemporary issues from a psychological perspective in order to made society more efficient and improve quality of life.
Q: Why was this visit so important to you?
AC: Before leaving for this trip I had planned to make a career in applied psychology, specializing in sports psychology. This would mean I’d be helping athletes with anything from performance based anxieties to strengthening their mental toughness. After visiting the institute, I am considering a career in the research side of psychology instead. I would not have realized that research could be interesting and fun without going on this study abroad trip.
Q: Where did you head to next?
AC: Our last stop was Paris, France. This was by far the biggest cultural shock of all three cities.
Q: What were some of the obstacles in France?
AC: Hardly anyone spoke English and even the ones who did assumed everyone spoke French. It was a complete 180 from what we are used to in the United States.
Q: What was the class emphasis on your final leg?
AC: In our time in France we focused mostly on finishing class work and taking our final.
Q: Did you get to take in the sites and experience Paris?
AC: The experiences we had on our own included shopping on Champs-Elysees, walking the Louvre and even visiting the Palace of Versailles.
Q: Were there any special moments?
AC: My favorite night was going to Mont Saint-Michel and the Latin Quarter for the beginning of Paris’ biggest music festival. The next day, we climbed the Eiffel Tower. It was 704 stairs and 324-meters high, but it was absolutely worth it. However, the best view of the city, which included the tower, was in Montparnesse Tower; so I went there on our last night in Paris.
Q: Do you wish you could have stayed longer or were you ready to come back home?
AC: As amazing as the experience was, coming home and spending time with family and my puppy made me appreciate them even more.
Q: Can you describe the total experience?
AC: Overall, this has been the best experience of my entire life, so far. As someone going into the psychology field, it is very important to do my best to understand other peoples’ perspectives and cultures in order to help them to the best of my ability. This trip not only helped me grow my understanding of people in Dublin, London, and Paris, but it also gave me the opportunity to get to know students my age from all over the United States.
Q: What are the possibilities of further travels or similar programs?
AC: I do plan on doing a program like this again, even as early as next summer. My ultimate goal would be to live abroad for a semester or to get an internship at an international psychological institute.