Hallo! My name is Lexi Chaney and I am a senior at Arkansas Tech where I am majoring in English as well as getting certified in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.
In the Summer of 2019, I had the pleasure to go to Austria where I taught English and American culture in a local school through the STARS program. The STARS program is a partnership between Arkansas Tech and schools within the region of Styria, Austria. This experience allowed students to be placed at a school either based on interests or a desire to be in a certain location which led to me being placed in Weiz at a middle school with a focus in sports. I absolutely loved the experience and felt as though I grew so much not only in my ability to teach, but also as a person which led me to have the fervent desire to return to Austria. Before I left, I was continuously begging the local teachers to just let me stay so I would not have to go back to America. They said no. Luckily, here at Arkansas Tech, we have a wonderful study abroad program, so when my heart yearned for Austria the coordinator said she would help me in whatever way she could to help me return.
Now, here I am, less than 72 hours away from departure and I am about to lose my mind. I have yet to pack a single item and I have a pile of laundry just staring at me anytime I enter my room. Clearly, I am killing it. Today I made the plan to come to Arkansas Tech one last time before I left, and it is making me quite nostalgic. Until this point, it has not hit me entirely that I was moving across the world and leaving my normal routine for this exciting adventure. Hearing all my classmates talking about their homework and creating plans for the weekend with one another has made me realize that I will not see and be a part of their lives as I have been for these past years. I am a very independent person, so I don’t feel a longing to stay here and whilst I was in Austria previously I did not face being homesick. Rather, I am just sad about missing milestones that occur within my friend group. Oh, and Emily’s dog. Penny, if you are reading this, I love you.
I have an ardent desire to travel the world and plan to spend the rest of my life abroad once I graduate this upcoming winter. Thus, I am excited to interact with so many people who come from such diverse cultures and backgrounds. I am taking part in a language course which I hope will make me better equipped to interact with local Austrians, so I am not that bad American who refuses to speak any German. I want to make connections that will help me academically, but also connections that I will cherish with friends for a period that lasts longer than this upcoming semester.
I have heard from friends in Europe that this semester is going to rock me, and I am going to suffer. I cannot wait. I am excited to experience a new form of education system and to be a college student from an international standpoint.
Overall, I am beyond ready to start this new journey, and I promise to keep you all up to date on my journey.