Go the Extra Mile

Westminster alumnus shares why every college student should study abroad


Alyson Mckie and friend exploring Europe. Photo by: Alyson Mckie

As students at a West County, private Christian school, it is fair to say that we grow up in a bubble. When in St. Louis, we only go to the City for a sporting event or dinner, and stay in the County for almost everything else. When on vacation, we often go to Seaside for the beach and Breckenridge for the mountains. Even though some families travel abroad, one week spent as a tourist in a foreign country will never allow one to become fully immersed into the exotic culture.

As a country, the United States is considered to be isolated from other cultures in many respects. Unlike most countries in Europe and Asia, there is no national requirement for US students to learn a foreign language in school. This hinders one’s communication with others from different countries and backgrounds. In addition, the large size of the United States makes it more difficult for citizens here to travel to other nations. And lastly, due to the tremendous amount of opportunities we are fortunate to have in the United States, a lot of people see no need to travel abroad.

For these reasons, it makes sense for college students to study abroad if they have the opportunity, according to Sarah McFarland, Westminster Class of ‘15, who studied in London for three weeks while a sophomore at Samford University.

“Studying abroad is really awesome because you get to see cultures and places that aren’t like your own. It makes you a more well-rounded person, and gives you an experience outside of your college bubble. Part of college is gaining a deeper understanding of how the world works, and studying abroad really helps shape that,” said McFarland.

Alyson Mckie, Westminster Class of ‘16, admits that her favorite part of studying at the University of Richmond, Kensington Campus in London was travelling around Europe during her stay.

“My favorite part was absolutely the ease of travel, you can get around pretty much anywhere in Europe, sometimes for the price of a nice meal. I was able to travel to about 10 countries and experience more culture than I ever imagined,” said Mckie.

This semester, Morgan Grimm, Westminster Class of ‘14, is doing her student teaching in New Zealand. Grimm has recognized that not only will teaching abroad affect her college career, but it will also impact her professional career as well.

“For me, I am studying education, so the school systems are very different in every country. I believe that studying abroad and working in a school system in New Zealand has not only taught me a lot about teaching, but also taught me a lot about the school systems in America. In the future, when I have my own classroom, I will be able to incorporate aspects of schools in New Zealand into my teaching and hopefully give my future students a great classroom experience,” said Grimm.

John Kramer, Westminster Alumni and CEO of Cambridge Engineering, studied at Oxford University and frequently travels around the globe for business. Kramer recognizes how important it is to interact with others from different backgrounds.

“It creates a rich experience to see other people’s challenges, opportunities, politics, and backgrounds that they face and have outside of our comfort zone,” said Kramer. “It has given me a profound respect and appreciation for what I have. I’m driven deeper to have an impact in the areas I can.”