By Desirae Kay Johnson
I have gone through several phases of self-discovery throughout my academic career at Kennesaw State University. The first phase occurred when I was an undergraduate at the university: It was my awakening. I learned things about myself, I discovered that I had strong opinions about a wide variety of topics, and I became enthusiastic about and thirsty for knowledge. I remember coming home every day after class and excitedly telling my husband about all of the new things I had learned that day.
The second phase followed when I entered the M.A. in Integrated Global Communication program at Kennesaw State University. It was at this time that I discovered a passion for research, a desire to achieve a PhD, and my future ambitions to teach at a university.
Now, I am in my third phase of self-discovery: The Summer International Experience. At 30 years of age, in a strange country…alone, I have realized several new things about my personality, including:
I am a strong, independent woman. I’m not sure if you figured this out yet, but I flew all the way to Ireland by myself. AND, this was the very first time I had traveled out of my home country! Nothing makes you feel stronger than leaving your husband, pets, and home responsibilities behind to jet off to a faraway land.
I am a rule follower. I would like to think of myself as a rebel, and maybe I am in certain situations, but if a sign says, “stay off the grass,” then I generally choose to not walk, sit, or stand on the grass. And, if the sign says, “don’t walk,” then you won’t find me dodging cars as I dash across the street. However, it appears that people in Ireland pay little attention to signs as I often see them ignoring these rules (sometimes I find myself closing my eyes while people dart across the street as a bus rushes towards them). So, if the rule seems reasonable, and it doesn’t hurt anyone for me to follow it, then I generally feel more comfortable when I pay attention to that rule.
I can eat out alone. And, go shopping alone, and walk the streets of an unknown city alone, and make new friends alone. The point is, I can go out by myself in public and not be embarrassed or feel weird. Well, maybe I still feel a little weird, but those emotions dissipate more and more the longer I’m in Ireland. This was something that I wasn’t sure I could do, but also something that I wasn’t rushing out to do back in the States.
This trip has been fun, exhilarating, and sometimes a bit scary. But, as I look back on the past three weeks, I realize how lucky I am to have this opportunity; and that makes me grateful to be a part of such a unique graduate program.
If you’re interested in a master’s in integrated global communication and want to learn more about the Summer International Experience, make sure to check out my classmates’ insights on the MAIGC blog.