Hello! I am Ashtar Abboud, and I am from Cleveland, Ohio. I recently graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and minors in Religious Studies and Arabic. In the fall of 2019, I studied abroad at John Cabot University. As someone who loves to travel, my time at JCU was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never have again.
I mean, seriously, when else in my life will I be able to live in a different country for four months with my main responsibilities being to continue my education and explore my passions?
The best part about JCU was the importance they placed on traveling and exposing yourself to different cultures. Whether it was the university-conducted excursions or my professors’ willingness to accommodate my needs, the university understood the desire for study abroad students to visit different cities and countries.
I traveled to 18 different cities in seven different countries
In my four months abroad, I traveled to 18 different cities in seven different countries, and I was even able to return back to the United States to visit my family in the middle of my semester. I did this all while enrolled in five courses.
I drank tea with a Bedouin family in the middle of a desert in Morocco; I went white water rafting in the rivers of Croatia; and I lived side-by-side with the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and countless other incredible landmarks.
The courses offered by JCU were an adventure of their own. As an English major, my favorite part of my studies was the diversity of all the students in my classes. The different perspectives each student offered was essential to the progression of my own understanding of the material. While in America the students in my classes are from different states, at JCU, the students and the professors were from all over the world. In all five of my classes, none of my professors were from one place. I had a British professor, a Dutch professor, a German professor, an American Professor, and an Italian professor.
This kind of diversity and knowledge is so essential to growth as a student and a scholar. Furthermore, the topics covered in my courses were just as enthralling. I took a course about the Popes of Rome. I would learn about something in class and then see it in person during my daily commute – how cool is that! And the best part was that we were able to go to the Vatican before it even opened to the public.
A life-changing experience
Now, I won’t lie to you and tell you everything was perfect. It was hard being away from my family and friends, and I did experience homesickness at times. I had to learn to live with six new roommates in a shared apartment. And above all, the culture shock could be exhausting. While most people spoke English, I do remember having to go to the post office once and not being able to understand anyone.
It will be hard at times. But even with my homesickness and stress and meltdowns, I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything in the world. I learned so much about myself and the world around me. I made a life-long friend who I still talk to regularly. And I have these experiences and stories that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. To me, studying abroad isn’t a choice, it is something that every student should experience and I am so glad I chose to have my journey at JCU.
Case Western Reserve University – Study Abroad Fall 2019
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio