January 29, 2015 (Jupiter, FL)– The Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College of Florida Atlantic University has always encouraged its students to take on challenges, step out of their comfort zones, and experience other environments, cultures, and systems. During the 2014 fall semester, Elodie Herard, an international student from Haiti, took part in a student exchange program through the School of International Relations and Diplomacy of the Anglo American University located in Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic.
Herard, a senior concentrating in International Studies with a minor in Economics, has always enjoyed traveling, and she saw this study abroad program as an opportunity to go on a very unique adventure. From August to December 2014, Herard studied at the Anglo American University, taking courses such as the Politics of the European Union, the Politics of the Middle East, the History Habsburg Empire and the Russian History-Slavs and Tatars.
While studying abroad in the Czech Republic, Herard had the opportunity to visit seven countries in addition to many other provinces of the Czech Republic: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. “I had a really great time in Europe. I learned a lot about interesting subjects through the normal class setting, but I believe I learned more from my interactions with Europeans and the many trips I was able to take,” she said. Herard shared that there was always something new to do and discover—confessing that the most challenging part of this trip was probably finding a balance between hands-on and normal class setting learning.
This study abroad experience helped Herard become more open to change and new cultures. As a Haitian studying in the United States, she was already exposed to cultural differences. However, while in Europe she had the opportunity to meet many people from all over Europe, the Middle East, and even Asia. Herard also had the opportunity to meet many other students with shared interests and ambitions. Her study abroad experience, therefore, not only exposed her to other cultures but it also helped her increase her networking skills. “To interact with them on daily basis in settings from study sessions to activities outside the school allowed me to discover myself while gaining an understanding of new cultures,” she explained.
Upon graduation, Herard plans to get her master’s degree in non-governmental organization (NGO) management and work for a non-profit organization in order to gain the necessary work experience that would allow her to understand how these institutions work, as she hopes someday to start her own. Herard aspires to give back to the local community in her home country; she wants to help the less fortunate children, particularly in the field of education. Another goal Herard aims to achieve is to play an active role in the government sector of the Republic of Haiti. “I am determined to realize my dream, and I am not afraid to take risks. Getting on a plane towards an unknown destination, being able to do great in a place where I don’t know anyone, and returning home with only positive thoughts and memories is a proof that I am ready to achieve the goals I have set in my life without any fear,” explained Herard.
Herard highly encourages other Honors College students to study abroad and is very excited for her classmates who will be spending this summer in Madrid, España with Dr. Cañete-Quesada. “Studying abroad is not only about taking classes in a different country. It is about emerging yourself in a different space, it is about getting to know yourself and experiencing the extraordinary,” shared Herard.
About Florida Atlantic University: Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of three signature themes – marine and coastal issues, biotechnology and contemporary societal challenges – which provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit www.fau.edu.