We spoke with Miller in fall of 2019, before she returned from Scotland.
WOU student Chloe Miller studied abroad at Stirling University in Stirling, Scotland during fall term. A Bend, Oregon native, she is a History major with a Dance minor, and started her junior year at WOU this fall. We had the opportunity to ask Miller about her experience studying abroad, and about some of her favorite adventures in Scotland. Check out her answers below.
Why did you choose to study abroad in Scotland?
I chose Scotland after falling in love with it on a trip with my mother and grandmother in 2017. I knew I had to return and, as a History major, it would be an amazing opportunity for my education. Scotland is similar in weather to Monmouth, except a little colder. It has the lush greens and the changing Autumnal colors and it rains a lot, which I am sure sounds familiar. I am in the center part of Scotland, on the border of the lowlands and the highlands in Stirling.
My Scottish university is nearly a huge park, except for it has two buildings where classes are held and accommodations. The buildings are spread out and I live in the furthest accommodation, so it takes me about 20 minutes to walk into the central part of campus. It is a beautiful walk. There is a loch and a castle on campus and a bridge that connects the accommodation side of campus to the central section. If there was to be an equivalent to the Monmouth Squirrel, it would be the Stirling birds. There are geese, swans, ducks, magpies, and millions of crows.
How did you find out about this study abroad program?
I went to the Study Abroad home page and clicked on the map feature where it lets you click through programs based off areas of the world. I had a jump start as I knew I wanted to return to Scotland, so I clicked straight to it. There were multiple programs offered, but I wanted to be in a new place in Scotland, and Stirling has a good connection with WOU, so it just seemed right!
What is you daily schedule?
Well, it varies. Weekly Schedule: I have classes Monday afternoon, and all day Thursday primarily. One class on Wednesday and one class on Friday rounds out my class schedule. I don’t have anything on Tuesday so I have been using that as my explore day. Usually I do about 25-30 hours of homework (no lie) a week, depending on if I have an assignment in addition to readings, but I get most done by Saturday or Sunday most weeks.
Daily is pretty much the same stuff I do at home: classes and homework, making sure I eat and shower, maybe watching a movie. I think the variety comes on Tuesday and Saturday when I have more time to commit to bigger experiences.
Have you had a mentor at WOU that helped you through the process?
I have had multiple. Depending on what program you go through, you will have a WOU Study abroad mentor, your personal advisor, and the program advisor you are going through. It is immensely helpful to have so many ways to stay connected and feel secure while taking a big leap like study abroad. However, my program advisor Kim Jensen is a beacon of light and clarity through the whole process. Wouldn’t trade her for the world.
What is the biggest difference between WOU and University of Stirling?
The biggest difference in a university sense is the focus of the work you are doing. There is a much more individual work type here, very little collaboration and group work. All assignments are entirely on your own. At WOU, there is a much bigger feeling of having community work improve your own work – the consultation and teamwork makes you better at your individual work. I more strongly align with WOU, but neither are bad.
What have you been doing for fun in Scotland?
I have had lots of time for small adventures each week. Things like visiting museums or historical sights only take a day to go see and are very fun ways to get to know the place you are staying. In my city there are quite a few of these types of attractions, but many more are just a train ride away. I have had the opportunity to do some bigger trips like a three day Highland tour as well, which was thrilling and inspiring. However, I think most things are fun adventures when in a new place.
What has been your best experience so far?
The highlands weekend I did is by far the best thing I have experienced in Scotland. It was magical and inspiring and adventurous and more than I ever thought it could be. No joke, not exaggerating, everyone should experience the highlands.
What has been the biggest challenge?
Being away from my people, my tribe. Once you are away from home, I think there is this fearlessness that you assume you have, that you will be okay away from people. Quickly you realize that isn’t true – at least most of us – and Study Abroad is similar to leaving home for college, but with the family you have made on campus. You don’t see your best friends or your significant other or your teachers/mentors and honestly it is a very isolating feeling. You are leaving your everyday for a new one. Even the mundane is new. I don’t think people expect that to be the most challenging part of studying abroad, but it is definitely is.
Is there anything you wish you had known before entering the study abroad program?
There is going to be more emotional change than physical change and you are going to have to deal with it on your own, but that is the beauty of doing this. It seems improbable that you can move across the world with less than half of the stuff you own, knowing no one, and have that still not be the biggest change you face, but trust me, the biggest thing you have to face is yourself and sometimes that is scary. Study abroad is a very selfish period of time, use it to grow.
What advice would you give to a fellow student who wants to study abroad?
Don’t let the fear stop you, overcome it. I can’t tell you that the scary parts don’t exist or even aren’t that bad, because sometimes they are, and sometimes it feels unbearable. However, I can tell you that doing it anyway is the most liberating feeling you will ever know and it will spark a new capability in you. You will feel inspired not only by the place, but by yourself and all the things you have proven to yourself you can do.
If you’re interested in learning more about Miller and her adventures abroad, she wrote about her time in Scotland on her blog.