By Carrie Mauldin
In today’s world, it’s hard to come across someone who hasn’t done his or her fair share of traveling. For some, their idea of travel consists of a day trip to a beach an hour away, while for others, it can be an 18-hour plane ride across the Pacific.
Here at the University of Georgia, over 34,000 students have come and gone to various destinations while also calling Athens their home. It is not uncommon to meet someone here from another county, state or nation, and numerous students have traveled far and wide to come here.
What is it like to experience a new state while also attending a new school? Megan Murray, a freshman intended athletic training major from Long Island, New York knows. Traveling here from New York or anywhere across the country creates quite the change in people, customs and overall atmosphere. For Murray, one of the biggest adjustments was the people. “People tend to be nicer here. They’ll casually talk to you in the grocery stores and in passing. Not a lot of that happens up in New York,” Murray says. “There’s also not a lot of J-walking either, and I’d never seen fried okra before.”
Another big difference was the reaction southerners had to this year’s “Snowzilla” winter storm, Jonas. “At my old school, the principal wouldn’t cancel school unless the snow was past his knees, but here, everyone panics at the sight of a few flurries” Murray says.
While some students do their traveling within the states, plenty do their traveling internationally. Fiona Graves, a freshman biology and Spanish double major from Chattanooga, Tennessee, shares her experience in traveling to various international places while growing up. “I went to Italy when I was in the fourth grade,” Graves says. “I liked it, but I didn’t appreciate what I was experiencing because of my age. Junior year of high school, I went to Spain and loved it. Experiencing different cultures is incredibly beneficial to people, especially Americans because our culture is made up of so many different ones. Being able to see unique cultures that aren’t like each other and are distinct is really cool. The summer before senior year of high school, I went to London, Scotland, France, Switzerland and Germany. I really enjoyed that too because it’s great to see how people live and see how even though you live thousands of miles apart you still have things in common. Most importantly I think it was amazing to see how old everything was. America is so young in comparison to all the countries of Europe, and to be in a castle that’s been around since the early 1600’s really makes you take a step back and appreciate the beauty of everything.”
Some UGA students travel great distances to return to their homes and reminisce in the culture they were born into. Nuzat Moman, a freshman pharmaceutical sciences major from Atlanta, has made multiple trips to India throughout her life. While in America, she has moved from Atlanta, to Valdosta, and back to Atlanta due to her father’s job placements. However, over the summers, she travels to India to visit friends and family. “I usually go every summer to visit family. While I’m there I eat a lot of Indian food and travel,” Moman says. “You don’t really need cars while you’re there. There are free taxis called rickshaws that take care of most of the travel around the city.”
Her friend, Quynh Tran, a freshman biology major from Atlanta, is also experienced in travel. Tran migrated to America from Vietnam when she was nine and makes a visit back every four years. “My grandpa fought in the Vietnam War, and those who fought on the American side were given access to live in the United States after the war. My grandpa had a friend who lived in Georgia, which was how we ended up here. I came to UGA because it was one of the top colleges in Georgia,” Tran says.
With its strong diversity and large student body, UGA is full of students with stories of travel and cultural experience. For those who haven’t experienced another country or culture, UGA sends hundreds of students each year to foreign lands for study abroad opportunities. If you haven’t done your share of travel yet, get to it!