Blair Farley, Germany
For gearheads, Germany is the center of the universe. For Blair Farley, an automotive-engineering Study Away experience in Esslingen, Germany, was like a dream. It was also one reason Farley became a Blazer. “This program was one of the main things that brought me to UAB,” she says. “I found it and talked to the Study Away office before I came to school here.”
Farley’s classes at Esslingen University included German language and history and three automotive engineering courses—one taught by an engineer who pioneered the use of finite element analysis in car structures.
All of the engineering courses Farley took at Esslingen focused on cars; so did her extracurricular activities. Train travel and bike tours were interspersed with field trips to the International Automobile Association Auto Show in Frankfurt and the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart. “The computer simulation teacher actually worked for Mercedes and taught the course in his spare time,” Farley says. “When we went to the museum, we saw this cool concept car on display, and he was one of its creators. It was great to work with people who actually do this in their real lives.”
Nicole McLean, New Zealand
Traveling to New Zealand had always been a dream for Nicole McLean. “I’d heard it was a beautiful country,” she says. “I’d seen pictures, and always thought it looked like heaven.” The summer of her senior year, McLean flew to Dunedin, New Zealand, for a semester at Otago University.
A biology major set to graduate in December, McLean studied biology and philosophy and researched the effects of human impact on coral off the coast of Fiji. “I thought it would be really cool to do research under a female professor,” she says. “It was a great experience, because she was one of the most welcoming people I’ve ever met.”
When she wasn’t studying marine life, McLean learned just as much about life on land. “I sat down for coffee with a Kiwi girl—a New Zealander—who gave me a whole overview of how the Kiwis and the native Maori people interact with and respect each other.”
Otago University reminded McLean of UAB, she says. “UAB is known for diversity, and so are they. There are a lot of differences, but also a lot of parallels, too.”
Miller Hamrick, Senegal
Miller Hamrick was searching for a “different” French study-away experience. “I looked into programs in Paris, but everyone does that,” he says. Instead, through UAB’s Study Away office, Hamrick made his way to the village of Guédé-Chantier in the African nation of Senegal.
During his four months in the country, Hamrick studied sustainable housing and traditional building methods in Guédé-Chantier. “I got to work with a village elder who showed me how to make mud bricks. So one day I made mud bricks all day,” he says. At night, he studied an unfamiliar sight: an unpolluted sky. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many stars,” Hamrick says. “We would lie out on a blanket, and the Senegalese kids would have a boom box, and we’d just listen to music and hang out. It was a lot of fun.”
Hamrick also attended soccer games in the capital, Dakar, and toured the island of Goree. He came home from Senegal with credits in political science and French—and a new view of the world. “I think development needs to be handled differently, focusing on cultivating people and seeing what they need,” he says. “I’ve gained a new worldview, understanding that not every country is like mine.”
Read Jennifer Ghandhi's account of a month-long hike down Spain's Camino de Santiago.