We just interviewed Deja and Christian. Deja, who is from Watts, California, is a student at Howard University. Christian is from East
Los Angeles and a student at Georgetown University.
Deja and Christian met each other in high school as peer educators for Planned Parenthood. Now they live and study just a few miles from each other on the other side of the country in Washington, D.C.
Each of them had a lot to say about their college experiences, about leaving home to study on the east coast, and about adjusting to winter and the cultural differences in Washington, D.C. compared to Los Angeles.
They talked about the challenges of adjusting to the academics at these prestigious, private colleges.
They talked about learning how necessary it is to ask for help, even when it’s hard, rather than assuming they could figure things out on their own.
But the biggest thing that both of them talked about was how college has opened doors for them and widened their worlds. Specifically, college has enabled each of them to travel in ways that were unimaginable to them in high school.
Christian studied in Italy last summer, and took a trip to Germany while he was there. He will be studying in France in the fall. With his passion for international travel, he works at Georgetown’s Study Abroad office, supporting other students’ efforts to study abroad.
Like at many colleges, the cost of study abroad is the same as studying at Georgetown. A semester studying in France (including housing) costs the same as a semester in college, so Christian’s scholarships cover the costs. All he has to pay is the airfare.
College has widened Deja’s world, too. Through college friends and her college internship at Planned Parenthood, Deja has attended conferences in Virginia and New Orleans, and visited students at other colleges.
Flying back to Los Angeles for a long weekend is expensive and impractical, but traveling to New York to visit friends is manageable, and staying at a friend’s college dorm makes it affordable, too. Deja fell in love with New York during her visit, but she didn’t stop there. On another trip, she traveled to Alabama to visit a friend at Tuskegee University. It was a chance to get a glimpse of the south, and to visit another historically Black college/ university. And, of course, she’s planning to visit Christian in France next Thanksgiving.
Both Deja and Christian expressed their excitement about traveling, and the ways that it has widened their world. It offers them a chance to see how different people live, eat all sorts of different foods, experience new geography and climates, gain new perspectives and see the world through other people’s eyes.
While their academics and their coursework are important to them, some of their greatest growth and learning has happened for them outside the classroom. Traveling has opened their eyes and opened new doors for them and college made it possible.