Brianna Cunningham

Brianna Cunningham, a senior majoring in geographic information science and minoring in computer information science, studied abroad on the Geography of the European Union in Cyprus in May 2018. Brianna vlogged about her experience abroad.

My love for travel and experiencing new cultures made studying abroad a no brainer for me. Originally, I began by searching for programs with relevancy to my major. When I came across this program administered by the Geography department, I immediately knew it was my first choice. Upon researching Cyprus, I discovered its rich history and diverse culture, being a melting pot with Greek and Turkish cultural influences. Everything from the incredible architecture to the natural beauty of the beaches and landscapes captivated me. A huge factor in me choosing this program was our amazing Cypriot professor, Dr. Stavros Constantinou. Having a native as a professor made our program unique and gave us a more authentic and in-depth experience of the country.

I had so many enriching experiences in Cyprus: exploring ancient Greek tombs and Turkish baths, visiting Aphrodite’s birthplace and touring the European Union House just to name a few. Overall, I would say my transformational experience was the authentic Cypriot dinner we shared at Professor Constantinou’s brother’s house. We were welcomed into their home for a family style dinner of homegrown and homemade traditional Greek foods. Although we were all strangers, the warmth and kindness his family extended to us reminded me of the large dinners my extended family always has back home. I was comforted by a familiar loving feeling, despite being over 5,000 miles away from my family. At that moment, our cultural differences were all irrelevant, and we were just human beings breaking bread together. It was truly my favorite experience of the entire trip.

I encourage other students to study abroad because it was an unforgettable experience for me. My program had a significant impact on my cultural awareness. Since then, I have visited two other countries, and my confidence in traveling abroad has boosted. I have also gained a great friendship out of my experience.

I was one of the many who believed studying abroad was not affordable, but funding is widely available. I suggest applying to the scholarships on the Office of International Affairs website. I received the Keith and Linda Monda Experience Scholarship from the College of Arts and Sciences, which covered all the tuition and fees for the program. I am extremely grateful that our university offers so many funding options for us to take advantage of.