Study abroad experience is an excellent opportunity to pursue an educational program in a foreign country with the aim to expand one’s understanding of various cultures and to get outside of one’s comfort zone.
This was also applicable to a group of American students from Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY, enrolled at the Performing Arts – Global Music program, who recently visited RIT’s global campus – RIT Croatia in Dubrovnik.
During their stay, students had an intensive course called Studies in World Music, taught by Dr. Mojca Piskor. The course is designed to explore selected music cultures from North America, South America, Africa, India, Asia, East Asia, and Central and Southeastern Europe. The primary goal of the course was to expand understanding of and perceptions about music both outside and within Western cultural traditions. In addition to in-class discussions, students had opportunities to be engaged in hands-on activities associated with the cultures studied.
Exploring relevant sights
During their three week stay, this group benefited a great deal from visiting all relevant high points in picturesque Dubrovnik and its immediate surroundings, and they finished their study abroad visit to this region by exploring Mostar and Sarajevo, jewels of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Daisy Matus, a 3rd year student of Biomedical Engineering program at RIT, was one of the students who took part in this adventure. When asked about her motivation to apply to such a program, Daisy said she never intended on studying abroad but she found out about this program during a time in her life when she wanted something new, something exciting. After reading more about it, she found out that the dates fit perfectly within her schedule and the class sounded very interesting. She is a Performing Art Scholar and she has been playing clarinet and saxophone for about half her life but she has never before learned about ethnomusicology. So she thought, why not learn about music in two different countries and see the impacts and importance first-hand?
“I really liked everything about this experience, but if I were to pick one it would be meeting a lot of different people. From RIT students to tourists and even the locals. It was fun and eye-opening to hear everyone’s stories. It was a good thing that most people in Dubrovnik speak English! Also, there are a lot of friendly cats in Dubrovnik!” said Daisy.
Every study abroad program strives to deliver the best learning outcomes for its students. When asked about hers, Daisy had no hesitation in answering: “One of the biggest things that I have developed was an increase in cultural awareness. Not only from taking the class and going to different places but from going out and talking to people, especially locals. I met a friend of our faculty advisor who was born and raised near Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina and lived through the wars. Her story was absolutely incredible and it is something that I will truly never forget”.
Embracing cultural differences
When cultural differences are concerned, everyone who embarks on a study abroad experience needs to be prepared to experience dissimilarities, and it was no different for Daisy. “The biggest difference that I noticed would be the language; however, most people in Dubrovnik speak English. It was mostly in Bosnia-Herzegovina where the language barrier made the most impact. Also, smoking is a big thing so one must be prepared to smell like smoke after being in a place where smoking is allowed. Honestly, I appreciated most cultural differences, such as the use of small cars and the coffee culture since I am a big fan of coffee” commented Daisy.
“Overall, not only did this program fulfill my expectations, but it exceeded them. Everything was absolutely amazing. The class was great and I enjoyed the folklore events that we attended in Metković and Čilipi nearby Dubrovnik. And RIT Croatia’s campus is in a great location so there is always something to do outside of class. The second part of the program was great as well. We visited Bosnia and Herzegovina, specifically Mostar, and Sarajevo, and we learned a lot about the history there” added Daisy.
People tend to make decisions about certain choices based on recommendation, and Daisy absolutely recommends this kind of study abroad experience: “Firstly, Dubrovnik is a beautiful city and I felt safe here which made the experience enjoyable, and this is coming from a Mexican-American woman of color. Mostar and Sarajevo are also very nice and rich in history. Secondly, the class was a great experience since we got to do some fieldwork and the professor was great. Thirdly, the program ended right before I had to go on Co-op so it fit perfectly in my schedule and it was three weeks which I felt was just right”.
About RIT Croatia
RIT Croatia has been delivering top American degree programs in Croatia since 1997. With its two campuses, in Dubrovnik and Zagreb, this is the only US College in the country and it is the only institution for higher education granting two diplomas to its students – an American diploma, awarded by RIT, and a Croatian diploma, awarded by RIT Croatia. RIT Croatia graduates work all over the world – from the EU countries to Australia and the US. International students come from all over the world but most of them come from the U.S. Some come from the main campus from Rochester, but a lot of Americans come from Croatian Diaspora communities in cities such as San Jose, San Pedro, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, New York, Toronto, Mississauga, Cleveland, and many more. For more information, contact: [email protected]
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