Stepping Out: First Generation Abroad

Haley Drolet

Haley Drolet

First generation college students Haley Drolet ’15 and Christian Sosa ’15 are more ready than ever for the “real world” that awaits them after graduation, thanks to their transformative college experiences—particularly their recent semesters abroad.

That is the message this Global Education department duo of interns presented to the Gregory Auditorium audience during a recent Convocation, sharing their experiences studying abroad at Oxford and in Spain, respectively, as first-generation college students.

Drolet, a Pike Honors student, grew up in a conservative Baptist home, but became accustomed to a contrasting liturgical style of worship in “Anglican England.” Drolet commented on the new experience, “I was making decisions about my faith on my own for the first time.”

Since returning home to what she calls her “very rural Maine family,” Drolet says, she attempts little by little to introduce pieces of her study abroad experience. “I try to sneak culture into their lives,” she jokes.

Traveling across the Atlantic to England was a remarkable feat for Drolet. “I grew up in Maine and had never been to Acadia. I didn’t really go to Boston during my freshman or sophomore years either,” she said. Increased independence is another result of studying abroad, Drolet said. After graduating this May, she plans to attend graduate school in England. “Once you travel abroad, then you’ll have the itch to travel again,” Drolet explained.

Christian Sosa

Christian Sosa

Sosa touched on the subject of being a first-generation college student. “I got to college through the grace of having friends that said ‘I’m going to college. I think you should come too,’” said Sosa, a communication arts and business administration double major.

Acknowledging that finances may be a concern for students considering a semester abroad, both Sosa and Drolet encouraged their audience not to let cost impact their decision. Financial aid and scholarships apply to Global Education programs, and, said Sosa, “Gordon provides an insane amount of help.”

Sosa summed up his experience as a first-generation college student studying abroad: “You learn more about yourself and your parents are outrageously proud of you. It can be tough but both parties really benefit from the experience.”

With a new sense of adventure in their lives, Sosa and Drolet are living testaments to the transformative effect of studying abroad, most especially for first-generation students.

By Daniel Simonds ’18, Communication Arts