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Kira English stands in front of the Jinsha archeological site monument.

A pinch of wanderlust

CMU students fly across the world to study, intern and serve abroad during the summer

Contact: Emily Stulz

From icy islands to tropical coasts, Central Michigan University students in various fields are advancing their education by studying abroad this summer. Read on to learn more about the valuable experiences five of them found with just a pinch of wanderlust and a lot of motivation.

Learning in a new culture

"The world is so big," said junior Mary Catherine McLaughlin. "I want to seize every opportunity I can to see it."

For six week, McLaughlin, a clinical exercise science major from Northville, Michigan, interned abroad in St. Lucia, South Africa. Completing an internship through Kaya Responsible Travel, McLaughlin worked with local people in rural KwaZulu-Natal.

McLaughlin gained plenty of experience, providing physical therapy, nutrition support and wound care for patients.

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Mary McLaughlin holds her Action C flag by the ocean while studying abroad.

Since she had never been outside the United States, McLaughlin was excited to learn the Zulu language, try traditional food and experience life on the other side of the world.

"I believe that life is worth living, so I want to live big," said McLaughlin

A passion for renewable energy

A fourth-generation college student studying mechanical engineering from Midland, Michigan, Hannah White wanted to take the next step by studying abroad in Iceland for seven weeks.

While abroad, she took a course on renewable energy which covered topics such as hydroelectric and geothermal power, sustainable energy and geology.

"I'm very passionate about renewable energy," White said. "Ninety percent of Iceland's energy is renewable, so it's definitely the perfect place to be learning about it."


Hannah White stands with fellow students in front of a bee home.

She encourages students considering Study Abroad to follow their intuition and to keep in touch with staff for guidance.

"It seems like a ton of work to get started, which can be daunting," said White. "The Study Abroad staff is phenomenal and will do anything they can to help make your experience a success. I promise it will be worth it in the end."

Being in the moment

An exercise science: kinesiology major from Orangeville, Michigan, Chelsea Robinson spent the summer completing a nutrition internship in Swaziland, Africa.

Robinson spent five weeks assessing nutritional body data for an area nonprofit, which provided a free and safe place for vulnerable children to go during the day. Many children are parentless in Swaziland, due to it having one of the highest HIV rates in the world.


Chelsea Robinson stands in front of a mural promoting Neighborhood Care Points, the organization she completed her internship with.

"My career in public health will require me to work with various diverse cultures," said Robinson. "These skills are vital to ensure that I can respectfully interact and appreciate diverse ways of living and thinking."

Robinson says when studying abroad, stay off your phone and be in the moment— this experience does not happen every day.

Immersing herself in culture

Majoring in nonprofit administration Kira English from Port Sanilac, Michigan, wanted to challenge her language speaking skills. To do this she decided to study abroad in Chengdu, China.

With a background in Chinese language from high school, English wanted to take her skills even further by immersing herself in the culture for 10 weeks over the summer.

"I wanted to become more independent," said English. "Studying abroad sometimes puts you in situations where you have to act quickly or learn to just handle the situation."


Kira English wears her Action C proudly in front of the Jinsha archeological site monument. 

Although it took time to adjust to the cultural differences, she advises students to challenge themselves no matter the time limit.

"It doesn't matter if you go for three weeks or a semester, you will have a wider view of the world and a greater appreciation and understanding of everyone else that is in it."

Treating unfamiliar animals

Biomedical sciences major Kelsey Nickel, from Bay City, Michigan, spent the summer completing a pre-veterinary internship working with domestic and wild animals in Chinsta, South Africa.

"You learn things from studying abroad that could never be taught in a traditional classroom setting," said Nickel.

While there, Nickel had many hands-on experiences working with animals she was not familiar with. Through community outreach programs, she was able to do something good for the local people who needed care for their animals, while increasing her knowledge and skills.


Kelsey Nickel shows off one of the many animals she has taken care of during her internship.

Nickel's advice to students considering an internship abroad is to find programs that align with the interesting countries that are calling you to explore them.

"Take all your fears and worries and conquer them," Nickel said.

Study abroad at CMU

Connect with 
Study Abroad at CMU and learn how you can take part in one of the over 150 programs, in more than 50 countries. During 2017-18, more than 700 students studied abroad through CMU.

University Communications interns Rylee Gross and Juli Lancaster contributed to this report.

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