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Northwest Missouri State University


Photo-Essay Contest 2015

1st Place: Madelyn Pospisil

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Even though I was shivering and had rain dripping off my nose and down my back, I couldn’t stop smiling.

It was my third day in Rome and our ISA program leaders had taken the group of us on a bus tour of the city. Before getting on the bus, Marco, an ISA staff member, asked us where our umbrellas were. “Umbrellas?!” we responded in unison. I had no idea there was any forecast of rain for the day. But it was too late to return to our apartment, so everyone hoped for the best. The bus tour ended a block away from the Colosseum just as it started raining. After haggling for flimsy ponchos sold by street vendors, we made our way toward the Colosseum for a guided tour. Due in part to the rain and in part to the fact that we had arrived ahead of schedule, we ended up waiting outside for about an hour—with no shelter from the rain.

If you had told me a year ago that I would have spent a month in Rome studying and traveling, I would had never believed you. I wanted to study abroad since I was young, but Rome was by no means at the top of the list. I wanted to go to Prague, Dublin, or maybe Paris. But as I started seriously looking into a summer study abroad session, the Rome program hit everything on my list. It offered classes in my major. It was a great length of time. And the food would undoubtedly be amazing. But more than that, it just felt right. I will forever be thankful to my mom for telling me one day, “Maddie, you just have to do it. It will be worth it.” Like moms tend to be, she was right. 

That day in Rome, looking at the awe-inspiring Colosseum before me with the Arch of Constantine on one side of me and the Baths of Caracalla on the other, all I could think about was how grateful I was for this experience. Yes, the rain was inconvenient. Yes, I was still insanely jet-lagged. But how many people can say they saw the Colosseum, let alone say they saw it in the pouring rain? So I embraced it.

This singular experiences represents my whole 5-week experience abroad. I got lost, frustrated, and made cultural mistakes more times than I can count. But throughout it all, I never lost that feeling of being endlessly grateful for my time in Rome—especially when it was raining.  

2nd Place - Abby Fisher

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Welcome to Gold Coast, Australia. This beautiful place is what I got to call home for four months during my spring semester in 2015. After searching through the thousands of photos I have of this place, I decided that this one represents Gold Coast the best. My friends and I woke up at 4:30am to walk to the beach and watch the sunrise over the horizon. It didn’t take very long for this to become a tradition of ours. Although it was sometimes hard to convince myself to get out of bed, the reward was definitely worth it. Going to Australia had always been a dream of mine. It was something I always told myself I would do one day, but I never really knew when I would go or how I would get there. I tossed around the idea of studying abroad in my head many times, but it always seemed impossible to actually do. To this day I look back at pictures and think, “Wow, was I really there?” I don’t think I’ll ever be able to wrap my mind around how amazing my time in Australia was; it will forever feel like a dream. I got the opportunity to travel all over the country to places like Cairns, Brisbane, Whitsunday Islands, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, along with many other places. So many things that were once on my bucket list were accomplished while I was in Australia. I got to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef, I got to attend a show at the Sydney Opera House, I got to play with kangaroos and hold koalas, I got to learned how to surf at surf camp, I got to go to the Australia Zoo; the list goes on and on. I always knew I would have the time of my life in Australia, but I was just never sure as to how I would do so. Australia also taught me so many things about myself and about the world that I would’ve never learned if I wouldn’t have studied abroad. It taught me independence, how to adapt to new environments, how to always be flexible even in stressful situations, and most importantly, cultural awareness. Studying abroad definitely changed me, but for the better. I am so thankful for the experiences and opportunities that I got to have. My time abroad might have been short, but the memories I made and the friends that I met along the way are ones that will last a lifetime.


3rd Place - Sarah Raymond

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This past summer, I had the incredible opportunity to study abroad in Florence, Italy with my best friend. We studied for three weeks and then travelled around the continent afterwards. Out of the eleven countries and over a dozen cities we visited, I believe I took over three hundred pictures. However, the picture above is by far my favorite. The Ponte Vecchio Bridge is a huge tourist attraction in Italy. It’s a bridge with houses on the side of it. When you walk the bridge the houses are actually stores that sell only the most amazing types of jewelry with incredible detail and jewels. I was lucky enough to only live a short ten minute walk away from this amazing place. While I was too poor to afford anything on the bridge, this was my favorite place to hang out during my three weeks living in Italy.

At night, my friend and I would buy gelato on one of the main streets and then sit on the edge of the bridges and admire all that was occurring around us. There would be musicians down below playing their music and entertaining us. Performers walking around the street doing amazing and weird things trying to make a tip. Italian families roaming around eating dinner and enjoying the weather. The culture and history in this one little area of Italy was breathtaking. Let alone the sunsets each and every night. My favorite memory about this bridge occurred on one of our last nights in Italy. It was a national holiday that we were lucky enough to experience. They celebrated with incredible wine, gelato to die for, and a terrible display of fireworks. While the fireworks show was hilariously bad, it was still an incredible night. It wasn’t what I expected. I realized that not everything is how I expect it to be. That night I was able to experience an incredible event that is so important to so many people that I had no idea about. Even though the show was bad the bridges were packed tight and everyone was celebrating. I felt a part of the culture, felt like I had learned something in my short time there, and knew my experience was once in a lifetime.

                This is my favorite picture because it represents everything I loved about studying abroad. It depicts my most favorite place in the whole area. It represents the amazing sites, the incredible architecture, all the activities, and some of my favorite memories. The pure joy I felt being able to have the opportunity to experience it all is captured in the picture. The sunset was breathtaking and the picture allows me to look back on the beauty I was surrounded by.  I learned so much about life and about myself while I studied abroad and this picture is a great representation of that.

 


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