UNCA Student Testimonies

Star Neorr in the mountains

Star Neorr being hugged by an elephant

Star Neorr

2022 McClinton Scholarship recipient

“Studying abroad in Thailand was one of the best decisions I have made for myself and one that offered me a new perspective on the world and an opportunity for personal growth and transformation which I will forever be grateful for. I had known since high school that I wanted to study abroad, and when it came time to choose a destination I realized that I was much more likely and able to visit Europe for a summer on my own than to get another chance to live in Asia for 6 months. As a Religious Studies major, I was excited by the idea of living in a country with a majority Buddhist population, as well as the possibility of traveling to other Southeast Asian countries with Hindu and Muslim influences. However, I was also terrified to travel alone to the other side of the world where I didn’t speak the language, especially knowing only two or three other people who had done so. Traveling for 30 hours is admittedly rough any way that you look at it, but I was so full of relief and excitement as soon as I arrived that I quickly forgot about my long journey to get there. Quickly I realized that you are never really alone in a world so full of people and life as our own, no matter what country or how far from home you are. I had expected to find myself in a completely different, unintelligible world from the one I knew, and while Thai culture was extremely different from my upbringing in North Carolina, I was comforted by the constant familiarities of daily human life. Although it was taking place in another language and on another continent, I found myself surrounded by people cooking food for one another, going to work, caring for their children, learning, traveling, loving, etc.”

“Through my exchange program as well as additional travel around Thailand and surrounding countries I was able to meet so many students, backpackers, expats, and people from different countries, backgrounds, and cultures which I would be much less likely to encounter and interact with back home. I made some of my best friends who I can now visit all over the world and got to explore some of the most beautiful and diverse natural landscapes that the earth has to offer. I got to try so many things for the first (and hopefully not last) time like scuba diving, riding a motorcycle, eating scorpion, surfing, and muay thai. I gained confidence in my ability to travel alone, traverse foreign countries, and adapt to different cultures. I returned home with immense feelings of pride, accomplishment, and gratitude for all of my experiences while I was abroad, as well as a new sense of the world as something so much bigger than myself and more welcoming than I could have ever imagined.”


Molly Fitzgibbons photo

Molly Fitzgibbons

2022 McClinton Scholarship recipient

“During my time abroad, I took classes taught in Spanish at Universitat de Barcelona. I primarily took elective courses like art and history taught by local Catalan professors in Spanish. Because Barcelona has such a large international population, I had the opportunity to not only connect with Catalan students but an array of people from across different parts of the world. Walking everywhere throughout the city and navigating the metro from my local neighborhood became an enjoyable part of everyday life that allowed me to explore the city. The accessibility of traveling to other countries within the EU was also a wonderful part of my experience. Traveling with new friends uniquely bonded and strengthened my friendships as well as taught me patience in navigating the challenges of exploring new places. Barcelona itself is a welcoming and vibrant city with unique neighborhoods, exciting nightlife, and gorgeous weather. My background knowledge in the Spanish language and keenness to adapt to the culture made it slightly easier for me to assimilate. Ultimately, studying abroad was the most enriching experience during my time at UNCA.”