By Jonathan Leopold || Contributing Writer
“There was a goat tied to the roof of the bus, banging its head trying to get off,” Greg Fullam says as he begins to recount one of his many fascinating experiences as a study abroad student last semester in Madagascar. With the start of second semester, a plethora of junior and senior students are arriving back to Franklin & Marshall’s campus from study abroad programs. These students will almost all tell you that studying abroad is a truly rewarding experience, one that continues the pursuit of learning in a radically different, enriching way while living in another country for several months. It provides those who are interested with a rare opportunity to explore life and culture outside the familiar American structure.
Fullam says that the major thing he learned abroad was how to be happy without the luxury of easily attainable material goods. Madagascar is plagued with poverty, and getting accustomed to those circumstances was a challenging, but rewarding, experience for Greg Fullam. “It is a really poor place. Their roads are terrible. It takes ages to get everywhere. Most houses don’t have toilets… You can’t drink the running water either.” Despite this, he says the people of the country maintain an optimistic spirit. “People are still really happy and they have meaning in their lives. It makes you realize—that’s how most of the world lives.” Greg was able to have a rewarding experience abroad even without the modern conveniences offered in the United States.
Another major bonus of studying abroad is being able to experience unique adventures that would be inaccessible, even inconceivable, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Greg says the most interesting thing he saw or did on his trip was visit a rare lemur species that lives in a marsh habitat outside the rural village he stayed in. “We got up at 3:30 in the morning and went in these dugout canoes through these narrow channels. It was really dark and the sun was rising right over the lake. That was pretty wild.”
From a goat on the roof of his bus to an early morning encounter with a lemur, Fullam’s experience in Madagascar was filled with remarkable sights and opportunities one wouldn’t be able to find walking down Harrisburg Pike. Studying abroad provides an opportunity for students to experience things they would never be able to discover in Lancaster, or anywhere in the United States for that matter. Greg Fullam’s trip to Madagascar is just one of the many eye-opening programs available to F&M students.
Students interested in international or off-campus study can contact or visit the College’s Office of International Programs, located in the Joseph International Center on College Avenue, to see which programs work with their intended major and financial aid plan.
First-year Jonathan Leopold is a contributing writer. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.