Kimberly Shoff of Madison returned to the University of Mississippi in January with more on her mind than completing her junior year.
After spending last semester studying at the University of Deusto in Bilbao, Spain, living with a host family and traveling extensively around Europe, Shoff is experiencing information overload in a positive way.
“I’m still trying to process it all – personal growth, reorienting myself to what my long-term career goals are and reflecting on a new perspective of Europe as a whole and its cultural differences,” she said.
A member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Croft Institute for International Studies, Shoff is majoring in international studies and Spanish. She opted to study in Spain to become more proficient in the language, learn about other cultures and gather information for her required senior honors thesis.
“I couldn’t have been more fortunate as far as living arrangements,” she said. “The lady I lived with treated me like her own child, and her apartment was in the city not far from the university I attended.”
As for personal growth, Shoff said being “outside the Ole Miss bubble” forced her to become more independent.
“I definitely learned more about myself in realizing my capabilities, discovering new interests that will help guide me in my career choices, and I have a better sense – a better appreciation – of my own identity and culture.
“At the same time, I did reach out to the community and other students around me to help adjust to the stark culture change.”
Shoff also worked some travel into her fast-paced schedule. Through the University of Deusto, she visited Madrid and Toledo, toured the southern France and took a guided tour of the Guggenheim Museum. On weekends, she joined other UM students who were studying abroad and traveled throughout Europe.
Shoff is slated to graduate from UM in spring 2011. She plans to continue her education either in law school or in a graduate program, with the long-term goal of working for a humanitarian aid organization, maybe for the United Nations or for a foreign embassy. Sandwiched in between, she wants to work with Teach for America.
A graduate of Madison Central High School, Shoff is the daughter of Peg and Joe Farnham and Jim and Wendy Shoff.
“The program with Duesto is an exchange offered through the UM Study Abroad Office,” said Vanessa Cook, Study Abroad adviser. “Through exchanges, students can study abroad for the same cost of tuition as studying at UM, use any financial aid to help defray some of their costs and receive credit for their classes abroad.”
For more information on Study Abroad programs at UM, go to http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/study_abroad/.