Study abroad is for me: Meet Seth

“Study abroad is for me because I got to live the experience my parents lived as students and be able to walk in their shoes. I was never the same when I came back. Transformative is the word I want to say — transformative.” Headshot of Seth. Black background image with airplane flying in bottom right hand corner

By Rachel Berry

Seth standing with a group of students in front of the Eiffel Tower in ParisSeth Seward, class of 2011, passed a poster for an Americans in Paris study abroad program numerous times while walking to class and didn’t think anything of it. He went through college, switching his major multiple times, and when it came time to graduate, he still hadn’t taken the opportunity to study abroad as so many other Miami University students do.

Seth’s parents both graduated from Miami and studied abroad in Luxembourg at the Miami University John E. Dolibois European Center. They both spoke highly of their time abroad and wanted their son to have a similar experience and to be able to travel while in college.

Seth was nervous to go so far from home but eventually listened to his parents’ advice and signed up for the Americans in Paris program through the American Studies program. He walked across the stage at graduation, receiving his diploma just days before his flight left for Paris, where he would earn the last six credits he needed for his American Studies degree.

“I saw the joy my parents had in going, and I thought maybe I would have the same experience, Seth said. “I realized that I need to be able to get out the United States to see different cultures.”

The only thing he regrets about his study abroad is not seeking out experiences like traveling outside of France. However, Seth enjoyed his time in Paris, and he especially loved the food and the French pastries.

He took a capstone course while he was there that allowed him to choose a subject to research. Seth chose African American military history, particularly looking into soldiers who went to Paris during the World Wars and how they were treated there compared to in America.

As part of this project, Seth was able to go on an African American history tour of Paris and to see places related to what he was studying.

“It was rather interesting to give some context,” he said. “It was very good for [the tour guide] to illuminate the history.”

Seth standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, light up at nightSeth also spent his time abroad making videos to document his adventures. He filmed the sites they toured and gave recaps of each day, sometimes interviewing the professor and other students as well. Seth shared these videos on Youtube with his family and friends at home to keep them updated on his travels.

Since graduating from Miami and entering the workforce, Seth has been able to implement lessons he learned during his time abroad. Right after college, he interned at the Columbus International Program, a nonprofit for people from different countries to learn about American culture.

Seth was able to relate to these people since he had felt what it was like to be in a culture with different customs he sometimes didn’t understand. He also created a Youtube series similar to the one he made abroad by interviewing the people at his internship.

Later, Seth got a job at Job and Family Services and learned to say “hello” in different languages to make people feel more at home. He could relate to how they felt not being able to communicate after his summer in Paris where sometimes people had trouble understanding his French.

“They’re just a human being like you and I, and I want to be able to say ‘hello’ and present myself well,” Seth said.

Now, Seth works as the Assistant Director of Alumni Groups at Miami. He hopes other students won’t let a little apprehension keep them from having life-changing experiences abroad.

“It’s not learning from offhand knowledge like I’ve watched a film or read it in a book or a professor told me. No, you’ve lived that experience,” Seth said. “It’s a different frame of reference. I lived it. I was here; I saw this firsthand, so I think that’s very important.”