OpScholar & Difference Maker shares Study Abroad Experience after a Semester in the Virgin Islands
Studying abroad, while exciting to think about, might seem scary to anyone considering it for the first time. Maryam Nour’s experience lays out an honest but positive outlook from her own trip.
Study Abroad Profile
The experiences one goes through on a trip can be a mind-opening awareness of what’s going on beyond their own backyard. Through the eyes of another student that chose to study abroad last semester, you can dive into what her trip meant to her and how this experience can influence our everyday lives. Maryam Nour, a senior at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, was kind enough to share her story about when she went to the Virgin Islands for the study abroad program last semester.
Learning about Maryam
Maryam is currently studying public health and pre-med. While she is unsure of what to do, with emergency medicine or surgery being at the top of her list, she isn’t slouching on her plans for the future. She currently has applied to 20 medical schools, though her top schools are Wayne State or Michigan State University for the College of Human Medicine.
Of course schooling is only a part of her life with the activities on campus being a large part of her life at University of Michigan-Dearborn. The clubs she is a part of while she has been here is the Muslim Student Association, National Society of Leadership and Honors, Global Brigades, Public Health Society, Co-founder of Child Life Specialist, and mentor for the OpScholars program. She is also a member of the Women’s Club Soccer Team. Of course she has her own hobbies such as participating in Mixed Martial Arts, tutoring for Islamic Studies, being a part of a Fellowship with Next Generation of America, Islamic student at Miftaah Institute, volunteering at Beaumont Hospital, and working multiple jobs.
Choosing last semester to go along with the Study Abroad Program wasn’t easy after the previous year public health/medical mission in Central America but in the end it was worth it for her to be a part of the environmental program. No doubt it had been scary for her to travel but in the end she quite enjoyed it. Partly she had wanted the experience to travel somewhere new and expand her horizons. This can be one of the positives that many students say makes the trip worthwhile. The only downside she admits, like many things today, was the cost as it almost prevented her from going But with her own research, she had found the courage to get involved with the program.
While she was in the Virgin Islands and studying at the university there, it was easy to adapt with the nice weather helping her adjust to her new environment. She even got to experience her first time in the oceans, snorkeling, and the beaches, which were beautiful with clear water and being her first time seeing the marine life that had resided on the island. These were some of the most memorable sights on her trip, along with the ride on a ferry to St. John, one of the various islands within the Virgin Islands, along with having a diverse population.
Exploring the culture of a new country, Maryam admitted, “is one of the many positives about studying abroad - it gives you the chance to live in another country for an extended period of time”. Maryam was able to explore the historical aspects of the island such as The Annaberg Sugar Plantation , and was also able to see the extensive animal life that resided there. While it was challenging being in a different atmosphere as well as seeing the non-tourist side of things, Maryam noted that it is necessary to look at the negative impacts on the environment - such as the illegal dumping of garbage that has been going on.
The University of the Virgin Islands was able to provide various classes and programs for Maryam to participate in. The hands on experience was beneficial as well, letting her have a full experience while having a new environment to study in Her own experience led to her being close with the professors as well as the tour guides and with the other students that were there.
The time she spent on the Virgin Islands was soul-enriching for her and she had said that taking this chance, for someone that was weary of travelling on her own, allowed her to be confident in travelling on her own and helped encourage the unity and bonds she made with others. It also allowed her to see that there isn’t enough action being taken on how to help the environment, since politicians aren’t doing enough. Experiences such as these can help inspire others and she wants to be able to help the environment where she can.
All in all, Maryam’s experience with the Study Abroad program has been a positive experience for her. Her best advice is to definitely go for the experience and try being in a new country to enjoy yourself, but also be conscious of what you see around you to get outside of your comfort zone. It’s best to go around town with a group of friends.
Maryam’s travels aren’t over yet. After this experience, Maryam plans to travel somewhere new once a year. She is currently planning her first trip overseas in December to Saudi Arabia to complete her pilgrimage to Mecca and Madinah.