by Linda Hass, Published April 30, 2014
Tossing coins into Rome’s illuminated Trevi fountain with friends at midnight. Singing with waiters who double as tenors. Tasting “mini power-packed shots” of Italian espresso. These are some of the many experiences that Eastern Michigan University’s Briana McKoy, 22, sampled in her college career, thanks to EMU’s study abroad program and a pair of wings she inherited from her father.
“When I was in second grade, my dad challenged me to learn all 50 states and capitals in one week, promising that if I passed, he’d take me to see the White House. Long story short, Washington, D.C. was beautiful,” says McKoy, who received a bachelor’s degree in electronic media & film studies/communication this April.
That trip, and many others, helped to whet her appetite for travel, she says, adding that her late father, Keith McKoy, was a lead aircraft mechanic at Northwest Airlines (now Delta). “My dad left me wings. I didn’t want to just read about a place—I wanted to see it for myself.”
To commemorate his memory, McKoy is turning her travel experiences into a blog that offers tips from lodging to travel apps. Her ultimate goal, however, is to produce documentaries on minority women around the world, bringing such causes as sex trafficking to light through media outlets like PBS.
This is one of the reasons she chose Eastern, she says. “Eastern’s summer program, ‘Around the World in 80 Days,’ is applauded nation-wide for being in a category of its own. Plus Eastern offers shorter, cheaper programs over school break; that’s something a lot of schools don’t have,” she adds.
McKoy has been to many exotic locations through Eastern’s Academic Programs Abroad (APA), including the Italian film and culture program in Rome and the Art History in Madrid and Barcelona program. The APA also has opened a window to inner exploration, she adds. “Traveling has helped me be more open-minded and seize once in a lifetime opportunities. The creative process is accelerated when you’re forced outside your comfort zone. Travel gives you the opportunity to explore who you are when no one’s there to define you and familiar settings aren’t present to constrict you.”
But there have been practical benefits, too. “Travel has honed my problem-solving, budgeting and story-telling skills. I love capturing beautiful moments and sharing them,” she says, adding that she has posted recollections on her Facebook site.
“Briana has been an enthusiastic participant of our program,” says Benita Goldman, APA coordinator, instructor and senior advisor. “She’s an avid and experienced traveler with open arms ready to embrace the world.”
Eastern’s APA offers a variety of study abroad programs including cultural history programs, travel and study programs, direct exchanges, intensive language and programs offered over winter break and during summer. Most programs are open to students from any college or university and EMU students can apply financial aid awards towards the programs, says Goldman.
For more information about EMU’s APA, see: http://www.emich.edu/abroad/