Auburn native stays home for college, but ends up exploring the world

Published: August 06, 2020
All study abroad options at Auburn University are currently on hold due to travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Lindsey Olive didn’t choose to attend Auburn University because it’s in her hometown, but because it would provide room for career exploration and vast study abroad opportunities.

By the time Olive graduates this year, she will have chronicled trips to Nepal, Jordan, Italy and New York, all study abroad options offered through the College of Human Sciences.

Fittingly, the world traveler is a global studies major, although it wasn’t her first choice.

“I changed my major several times before I landed on global studies,” Olive admitted. “I was drawn to the major because of its focus on problem-based learning, the building of cross-cultural competencies and the search for ways to improve the quality of life through different avenues. I have enjoyed being able to approach contemporary issues from an interdisciplinary perspective.”

Nepal

Olive’s first abroad experience at Auburn took her to Nepal. She said the South Asian country would certainly challenge her ability to adapt and live in a completely different culture. “It also sounded like the ultimate summer adventure,” she added.

Olive opted for the 11-week option, as opposed to four weeks, as a way of meeting the internship requirement for global studies majors. Students spend the first month traveling around Nepal, learning about the ways of life and standards of living for people in different areas. Olive said they toured various religious sites, went on a week-long trek, spent a couple of nights in the jungle and flew past Mount Everest, to name a few highlights.

For the internship, Olive spent the remaining time working with Five14 Nepal, a sustainable tourism company. She said the experience challenged her to communicate effectively in a professional environment, despite cultural and linguistic barriers.

Nepal may have been Olive’s first long-term study abroad program, but she’ll likely remember it more for how it changed her life. She said it not only gave her career direction, but helped her understand more about herself.

“As the country’s infrastructure is not quite as reliable as the United States’, I gathered that one of my strengths is adaptability,” she explained. “Nepal kept me on my toes, and the lessons I learned from that summer continue to affect the decisions I make daily.”

New York

Although the New York Study Tour isn’t an international program, the Big Apple can exemplify cultural diversity. Students spend a week touring the city like no other tourist, including a tour of the New York Stock Exchange, which is not open to the public.

Olive said the different tours around the city gave her “an insider's look at the cultural importance of the city.” The experience ends with an evening at the United Nations for the International Quality of Life Awards ceremony. Olive said attending the 2018 event, which honored PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff and legendary singer/songwriter Lionel Richie, was one of the highlights of her time at Auburn.

Jordan

Presented with another opportunity to study abroad, Olive picked Jordan because it would be vastly different than Nepal. Plus, it was led by Jordan native Baker Ayoun, the June M. Henton Associate Professor who taught Olive in the global hospitality course.

Olive had high expectations for an authentic experience. She didn’t expect another transformation.

“I learned so much from the way that Jordanians treat people; I want to treat others like that for the rest of my life,” she said. “I can’t count the amount of times I was offered Arabic coffee by complete strangers or invited for tea. We were even invited to a wedding one night.”

The trip provides students with a traditional classroom experience at the Ammon Applied University College of Hospitality and Tourism Education, along with personal exposure to the Jordanian and Middle Eastern cultures. Olive said her group spent a night in the Wadi Rum desert, one of the country’s most popular tourism sites, and hiked to Petra, one of the 7 New Wonders of the World. They also visited Ayoun’s home and family.

“I fell in love with Jordanians’ rich tradition of hospitality and the way they treat guests,” explained Olive. “I have many memories of experiencing the country and feeling such an immense sense of gratitude for the opportunity to visit.”

Italy

The Joseph S. Bruno Auburn Abroad in Italy program is so popular among Auburn students, the wait can be two years or more. Olive got her chance to spend a semester on Auburn’s only permanent overseas campus last fall, at the start of her senior year.

“Living in Ariccia, Italy, was the best three months of my life,” she said. “Ariccia is a small town, and most people only speak Italian, so it pushed me to utilize my language skills every day. I learned so much about Italian culture, art, history, traditions and its impact on the world.”

Auburn students live and attend class in the Chigi Palace, a historical feature of Ariccia. Lectures cover all aspects of Italian culture, and field trips around the country emphasize what was discussed in class. On weekends, students are encouraged to explore the rest of Europe.

“After that semester, I felt like I could confidently walk into any situation and find a way to get things done,” said Olive.

Returning to campus in January, Olive planned on finishing her studies, including minors in supply chain management and business, doing a summer internship with Wright Medical and graduating in December. She earned an international minor in human sciences from the Italy program.

However, Olive was soon completing the semester remotely and unable to intern because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She will graduate this month instead.

While she anticipates the impending start of her career, Olive remains certain her Auburn education and international experiences will help her be successful in any global industry.

“I consider my decision to enroll at Auburn the best one I could’ve made,” she said. “It afforded me the ability to seek out my interests and passions, understand my strengths and weaknesses and pinpoint which fields I could make the greatest impacts on in the future. Ultimately, it was the staff in the College of Human Sciences that guided and pushed me to pursue the things I didn’t perceive to be within my reach.”

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.