Enjoy Every Moment: Video Transcript

Ellen Florek [honors junior pre-law student majoring in Political Science, Class of 2019]: Currently I am studying abroad through Miami's MUDEC [Miami University Dolibois European Center] program in Luxembourg for the fall semester, and even though it's still pretty early on in the program, this has been one of the most exciting and awe-inspiring times of my life. I'd never been to Europe before, and so suddenly moving to central Europe for four months has been a completely different experience, and it's incredible to have this whole new continent within my grasp.

I'm also conducting an independent study doing research on the special education systems in Finland, Luxembourg, and comparing them to the United States special education system. Because of the generosity of the Honors college, I actually got a grant to go to Finland to do some field research in their special education classroom.

And I think the combined effect of all these factors has really guided me to a career that I'm genuinely passionate about. Miami's really taught me about a creative way to synthesize all of my interests into a career path that is just exciting for me, and I've truly found what I want to do in my life here, which is special education advocacy.

Study abroad has really challenged me in different ways I didn't even know I could be challenged. I never realized how much I depended on my support system back home through my friends and family until I moved across an entire ocean. So it's forced me to become a lot more comfortable in places where I don't speak the language, know the customs, or even look like any of the people, and I've had to get used to trying new things, which is extremely scary, but I think I'm better prepared now for anything that the future can throw at me.

And then, adapting to different environments will definitely give me an edge in my future as I plan to serve for Teach for America. Study abroad has also really re-emphasized the importance of priorities for me. The educational goals will always be a top priority for me, but education through experience has really been underscored at MUDEC, and I'll always carry this lesson of the importance of hands-on education with me.

Rather than waiting for a professor to reach out to you about internships or research, it's important to be assertive and proactive when going after these extra opportunities. They may seem unattainable sometimes, especially study abroad financially, but if you do the research about financial aid and scholarships and you apply for everything really early, there's tons of ways to make study abroad affordable. There are so many awesome things you can do at Miami — you just have to go after them, and then once you're involved, just enjoy every moment.

[October 2017]