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Volume 11 Edition 1: September 2011

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Highlight on alumi student Collins Boykin (UNCG, 11')

Collins Boykin is a recent graduate and former study abroad student at UNCG. Collins wrote how studying abroad changed his outlook and goals before and after graduation.

"Sirens, horns, brakes, and people carrying about their business in the streets; these are the noises I hear every day. Most of my life, I’ve heard birds singing, crickets chirping, and bullfrogs croaking when I’d listen out my window. My first study abroad was in Aarhus, Denmark, while my second was where I now call home; Sydney, Australia. I was once a boy living in a small conservative town, now I’m a Sydneysider. I owe all my thanks to the study abroad program at UNCG.

Before studying in Denmark I was a product of the environment and community in which I grew up; conservative, stubborn, unwilling to bend or change with the times. It was all I knew. It was difficult for me to accept things I knew to be true and easy for me to scoff at ideas different from my own. This all changed during my study abroad in Aarhus. I was exposed to people and culture completely different than my own. I was forced to adapt. Slowly, I began to open up. Picture a closed flower, slowly opening at the crack of dawn on a warm spring morning. That was me!! Although I hardly liken myself to a flower, the image is metaphoric of my transformation. I did a complete 180. It was no easy task, but I began to accept others for who they were and how they were different. Most importantly I began to accept myself, for how I was different. I learned from the natives around me and was able to understand what makes them who they are. Sydney was my chance to apply everything I learned in Aarhus; traveling, meeting new people, and adjusting to a different culture to name a few things. I soared with flying colors. Immediately I was able to forge strong friendships, adjust to the time difference and earn distinctions in all my courses. Most important were the relationships. They are why I am back today (along with an excellent economy). I currently work for Armani Exchange in Downtown Sydney and couldn’t be happier with where life has taken me. In the future I may move around, but for the time being I’m perfectly content calling Sydney home."

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