Every year, Austin College students travel to magnificent sites around the globe. Thankfully, they can share a bit of their experiences with family and friends through their photography.
Each year, the College’s Center for Global Learning sponsors a photography contest for those images captured abroad. This spring, several “winners” were announced, though all the entries were quite nice—and to have the opportunity to visit and experience other cultures in the global neighborhood makes all the entrants obvious winners.
The photos are entered and judged in three categories: landscape/environmental images; cross-cultural images that display unique aspects of a particular area; and cityscape/urban shots.
The winning shots for 2012, along with comments from the students, are displayed below. First, the contest results:
Austin College 2012 Photo Contest
- Winner: Lucy Li (“Exploring with Monks”)
- Runner-up: Kinsey Wuensche (“The Path Less Traveled”)
- Winner: Anne Deming (“Sidewalk Painter”)
- Runner-Up: Madison Messinger (“You are Here”)
- Winner: Madison Messinger (“Another Day at the Castle”)
- Runner-Up: Taylor Smith (“Good Night Wellington”)
I can definitely tell you about my experience there and what I enjoyed the most. I decided to go in order to further develop my Chinese reading and writing skills because I am fluent in the spoken language. We had 3 hours of instruction everyday along with quizzes every morning and 40 new characters a night. We also had a test every other week and we even had to go interview local Chinese people on the street and practice our conversation skills. The best part was definitely all the weekend excursions to places such as the Great Wall, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace. etc. Another wonderful part of my experience was my internship at an NGO called Beijing Huiling that specialized in helping adults with mental disabilities. It was an eye-opening experience to see how different the lives of the handicapped are from the US. It was such a pleasure to work with everyone there and I loved to hear their stores, teach them English, and host art/music lessons with them. I was always greeted with smiling faces everyday I went into my internship even after an hour commute in the hot and humid Beijing Weather. I always looked forward to my afternoons at courtyard style home with the adults and the activities planned that day. I met so many people including other Chinese college students, teachers, tour guides, and students from all over the United States. I also really enjoyed our mini-vacation mid semester. We went to Gansu province in far west China, which is a place most foreigners don’t travel. It was amazing to see how different the people are on opposite sides of the country geographically. We had a chance to see monasteries and meet monks and experience the life of the locals there. Overall, I can’t really pinpoint one thing that made the trip amazing, but it was a combination of everything with all the friendly people that made it unforgettable. I hope this helps. I’ve attached a picture of me eating the famous Lan Zhou hand-pulled beef noodle soup while I was in Lan Zhou (the capital of Gansu). Instead of staying in the hotel to rest up from our 17 hour train ride, my roommate and I went off on our own to explore and taste all the goodies the city had to offer!
“My semester abroad took me about 7,000 miles outside of my comfort zone where I became a person I never thought I could be: brave, fearless, and completely independent. Six months in New Zealand, on my own, with nothing but a few of my belongings, was by far the most rewarding experience I have ever had; the entire experience has provided me with wonderful memories no one can ever take away.”
My favorite part of studying abroad is the cultural interaction. This may seem cliche, but in the process of immersing yourself in a foreign culture you are able to better understand your own. When I went to Taiwan for my GO Fellowship I lived with a host family for the first time, and I encountered numerous challenges. I was prepared for some, and I was unprepared for others. However, the most important part of the whole experience was the process of adapting. Study abroad is a perfect example of “its the journey, not the destination.” People are forever changed when they visit foreign countries because you gain a new perspective that is unattainable in the United States and also completely unforgettable. I hope I continue traveling for the rest of my life, because I think travel brings out the best in people. There is something completely satisfying about immersing yourself in another culture and returning to the United States a better and more open-minded person.
The best part of my travel experiences has been the people I’ve met. I became a regular at a cafe when I was in Rome and when I returned a year later, the baristas recognized me and welcomed me back! I’ve learned about different cultures and values of new countries by participating in study abroad opportunities. I hope every student takes the opportunity to experience a new country because it opens up the world and new possibilities. The chances to experience a new culture, see ancient history up close, try new foods, and learn a different language have inspired me to return abroad to work when I graduate.
I spent the entire year in China. I only planned to stay for a semester, but decided to stay for the year. 10 days after returning from China I went on the choir tour to France. 10 days after returning from China I went on the choir tour to France. I have accepted the job, I’ll be starting work the day after graduation with the Osgood Center for International Studies in DC. I’ll be the assistant director under Shelly Williams and will be assisting in organizing programs, many geared towards international students. First thing I’m doing is traveling to Hong Kong and China for a Model APEC conference.
See the Top Asian Photos as selected for Asia Week 2012