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Scottish International Education experience sharpens RU student's focus

With a heightened self-confidence, a sharper focus and a book of great photography, Rachel Klein returned to RU from a semester at the University of Glasgow.

"It was good to get away and come back to realize how much I changed," said Klein, a junior from Stafford, who is majoring in special education. "The experience really helped orient me to what I really want to do."

Klein arrived in Glasgow to start the new year planning a double major in English and special education and wondering if she could manage both. She returned to RU this fall knowing that first things come first. She is now dedicated to achieving her five-year special education degree and will settle for a minor in English, for which she now has the credits. Above all, she said she returned to RU this fall feeling that she was on the right path.

Wandering the paths and streets of Glasgow to her classes was one of many highlights of the experience for Klein. Getting lost on the daily five-mile walk happened a lot early on, she said, but once she worked it out, the daily hike along the River Kelvin and through the botanical gardens and neighborhoods gave her a great feel for the city in which she studied at one of the oldest English-speaking universities in the world.

While at the University of Glasgow, Klein took nine hours of English classes and wrote dozens of papers on medieval literature, modern English literature and Scottish literature. "They assumed that since I was there, I knew what was going on," she said.

That assumption by her faculty forced her to spend a lot of time reading outside the assigned course material. A reader by nature, Klein relished exploring Chaucer, Burns and other authors. "It was nice to be able to sink into it and have time to think and read and wander," she said.

Her wandering took her through books and into the Scottish culture and countryside. Klein visited museums and castles, went hill walking, ran on the beach where the famous Chariots of Fire race was filmed and even sampled local delicacies, like haggis and a walnut cake that she credits with further sweetening the reading times. She attended a local church where she was welcomed heartily and at which she met a family friend of her parents who had emigrated to Scotland years ago.

"Glasgow was a great place to be an international student alone, because the mix of other international students was fantastic," said Klein, who added that she made friends with Polish, Austrian, English and Scottish students and even ran across another RU student studying there.

"There were moments when I had to remind myself that this was real, this was me and not somebody else I was reading about on Facebook," she said. "I learned I was capable of a lot more than I thought. It is scary, but fun to get lost and find your way and realize what is possible.

RU students who are interested in exploring international education opportunities have the option to study abroad for a semester, academic year or short-term summer program. The deadline for application is Thursday, Oct. 31. Students can choose to study overseas as part of a faculty-led program during the summer or spring or winter break, with an RU affiliate program provider like Semester at Sea or with one of eight RU exchange programs partners like France’s Blaise Pascal University or Japan’s Kansai Gaidai University.

"The International Education Center staff works closely with students, faculty, and academic advisors to develop a plan for students from all majors to study abroad. With proper planning a Wintermester, spring break, Maymester, summer, or semester long study abroad experience is possible. The IEC welcomes all students to visit us to start the conversation about how they can study abroad and how study abroad can advance their academic and pre-professional goals. Now is the time to start planning," said Lisa Childress, IEC director.

For more on the range of international experience opportunities available, visit the IEC online, drop by the office at Cook 105 or call 831-6200.

Oct 31, 2013