Study abroad unforgettable for Lisa Perry
From the moment Rogue Community College student Lisa Perry heard about the Study Abroad trip heading to Costa Rica, she knew she had to go.
"I said, 'That's me!' I was determined to make it happen," she explained.
The four-week-long international study opportunity, which combines intensive language instruction with a biology component, dovetailed with Perry's goal of becoming bilingual in Spanish and studying medicine.
"Being bilingual will expand my job opportunities and make me more well-rounded and able to help people," said Perry, whose aim is to become a naturopathic physician. Perry had visited Canada as a child but never been out of the country as an adult.
"This was an experience that will stay with me the rest of my life," she said. "It's something I won't ever forget."
The Oregon International Education Consortium, operating in consortium with the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS) organizes study abroad trips for students and faculty from the state's community colleges. In addition to shorter summer programs in Mexico and Costa Rica, the consortium puts on a fall session in Florence, Italy, and spring in London.
One highlight of the Costa Rica trip was that none of the students knew each other, according to Perry.
"We developed respect and trust for one another. We were thrown together as strangers and came out as friends," she continued.
"Language immersion is not easy," she added. "You're pushed at times… kind of thrown to the wolves, so to speak. It's mentally exhausting, but it's what you need to experience if you really want to learn the language."
Perry spent the first two weeks living with a host family and taking classes at a Costa Rican university. Her host mother, who spoke very little English, told Perry she'd made great improvements in her Spanish.
Then came two weeks traveling to three national biology reserves. A weekend excursion rafting the Pacuare River was the most exhilarating experience.
"It was a wonderful balance between Spanish and biology," Perry said, adding that the journey's most beautiful aspects were Costa Rica's foliage and wildlife. "All the instructors really knew their subject areas."
Perry, who says she's caught the travel bug, is already mapping out a plan to visit Spain next year.
After graduating from Shelton High School in Eugene, Perry went to work for Safeway. She moved to Medford three years ago and enrolled last fall at RCC. A self-described "flimsy student" as a teen, Perry says she's enjoying college.
She's taking general education classes and has compiled a 4.0 GPA. Her employers at Safeway, she noted, have been very gracious regarding her taking time off for school.
Perry plans to transfer to Southern Oregon University to pursue a bachelor's degree and then attend Bastyr University, a school for the natural healing arts and sciences located north of Seattle. Her longtime interests in natural healing and a healthy approach to life drew her to study medicine.
"Some people don't seem to care about health until it's almost too late," she said. "I want to be able to help motivate people to live healthier lifestyles."
For more information about international study opportunities, contact Dorcas Herr, RCC Spanish instructor: 541-245-754.
Or visit www.roguecc.edu/StudyAbroad/.
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