MSUM junior prepares for spring semester in England

Laura Baier poses with a clown in London.

Laura Baier poses with a clown in London.

Laura Baier always dreamed of traveling the world and experiencing different cultures. Second semester of her junior year at MSUM she will be doing just that. Baier is a soon-to-be foreign exchange student at the University of Lincoln in Lincoln, England.

The plane will take her overseas in January 2014. Baier will be placed on a meal plan and be living in a dorm room. She explained her future life as a reflection of her freshman year at MSUM. She will return to the states in June 2014.

Baier has wanted to study abroad since her sophomore year of high school. Obsessed with England, she took a trip there during spring break in 2012. After returning home, Baier quickly applied to the study abroad program.

The study abroad program offered at MSUM offers several different places to travel. Baier knew her choice was England because of the unique surroundings and attractive accents. England had always been her first choice when it came to studying overseas.

Exactly one year later, Baier received an acceptance letter in the mail.

“It was like a dream come true,” Baier said. “I had to reread the letter over and over again until it sank in.”

Current roommates of Baier, Holly Hoeschen and Mara Wessell are extremely proud, but it is a bittersweet change.

“It’s mixed emotions, I know she’s always wanted to go, and it’s great that she’s getting to chase her dream,” Hoeschen said. “One: I’m jealous. Two: it’s going to be weird not having her around. The whole dynamic of our house is going to change when she leaves.”

Wessell is proud that Baier is following her dreams. “I won’t be Skyping her, though, because part of me thinks she needs to have the adventure without reminding her that we’re waiting back home,” she said. “I want her to live her life in England without worrying about us.”

Janet Aarness, the leader of the Study Abroad Program at MSUM calls the students that are chosen to study overseas curious, motivated and ready to challenge themselves academically.

A word of advice to all students interested in traveling abroad to England: “Even though the two programs share a root language, the countries are quite different culturally, so students need to have an open mind and willingness to learn as they navigate and widen their comfort zones,” Aarness said.

Experiencing life in a different culture, trying different foods every day and meeting new people are three of the things Baier is excited about. Leaving everyone for so long is a disappointment for her, but Baier’s main concern is not being able to pack all of her shoes.

Joking aside, Baier is a strong supporter of studying abroad. Though it may seem like an impossible task, Baier pushes for students to just take the first step and apply.

Corin Puhalla, along with six other students, will be joining Baier in England second semester. Puhalla found out about the study abroad program through the online MSUM website.

“I am most looking forward to traveling and experiencing new and different cultures,” Puhalla said. “What I am least excited about is being away from my family for six months.”

Along with Baier, Puhalla also believes any interested student should take the first step and apply. Baier is open to any questions interested students may have and can be reached through Facebook.

For future study abroad students, Aarness recommends having a good work ethic, curiosity, open mindedness and having the ability to adapt to new surroundings. Any student with questions can talk to Aarness in her office, which is located in room 249 in Bridges Hall.


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