Arcadia University students on global field study in Dominica.
Me and my classmates in Kalinago Territory in Dominica.

Cross-cultural Commuter

My global field studies trip to Dominica was, in a word, amazing.

I could go on about the trip for days: Show you the pictures, tell you about every excursion, try to explain all of the jokes. But if I’ve learned one thing from attending a globally focused university, it’s that your peers tend to stop listening — or, worse, get annoyed —after your third or fourth story. So I’ll try not to gush about hiking through Cabrits National Park, snorkeling in Champagne Bay, or jumping out of a mermaid-worthy cove into the 300 foot Middleham Falls.

But can you blame my excitement? As a four-year commuter student, I’ll be the first to tell you that living at home is not as bad as it’s hyped up to be. However, splitting my time between Arcadia and home hasn’t given me much of a chance to see the world. And, as I mentioned in a previous post, long-term study abroad wasn’t the best option for me.

This global field study course provided me the gateway into another world that I’d been waiting for.

On top of educating me in the traditional academic sense, this global field study course provided me the gateway into another world that I’d been waiting for. I feel incredibly lucky to attend a university that allows every student access to new cultures, foreign places, and different people. If I — the budget-conscious commuter student who breaks out in a sweat before purchasing a $20 shirt — can, everyone can.

My trip to Dominica also gave me the opportunity to connect with Arcadia students whom I hadn’t gotten the chance to meet. Though I’ve involved myself in the university community in many ways, I typically don’t spend my weekends on or near campus. Taking part in a global field studies course, however, gives commuters the chance to bond with classmates they barely know or only casually met. Whether it’s a 10-day trip or a five month semester, friendships come so easily abroad; your classmates are always around and exploring with you. Sometimes they’re literally catching you when you slip in mud on the side of a mountain. Not that that happened to me.

One night in particular sticks out to me. My classmates and I were laying on the dock of a bay that our hotel overlooked, watching the stars. I laughed so hard that night, I think I almost formed six-pack abs for the first time in my life. But in the midst of joking with new friends and admiring the fact that you can actually see full constellations in Dominica (unlike in Northeast Philadelphia), the importance of this trip really hit me.

Global field study courses aren’t simply about enjoying sunny weather in the winter, or getting to frolic around an unusual city for a week. They offer a space for both global and personal exploration, providing even the biggest homebody, the most frugal student, or the busiest commuter, with the opportunity to branch out and grow.  

Not bad for my last winter break, huh?