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Student Spotlight: Abigail Martuscello

Posted by: andrewst | November 1, 2020 | No Comment |

Certainly nobody expected to be packing their bags to go home for the semester at the beginning of March, 2020. But for some students, the journey home when campuses closed was a little longer than most. One of our very own Political Science majors, Abigail Martuscello, was studying abroad in Haifa, Israel when things began shutting down around the globe. Abigail was spending her semester abroad, funded by the prestigious Gilman Scholarship, a nationally competitive award open to college students who are receiving Pell Grant funding. 

    Though her time in Israel was unexpectedly cut short, Abigail says the situation “made the experiences I did have even more special.” She explains that some of the conversations and experiences she did get to enjoy before leaving might have been overlooked if she’d stayed the whole semester, but because it was so brief, it allowed her to really reflect on what she did get to experience. And now that she’s returned to the US to finish her studies, she wants to encourage other students to experience study abroad as well, especially in non-traditional locations. 

    One piece of advice Abigail couldn’t stress enough was the importance of not letting fear hold you back. She struggled with safety concerns about her destination from friends and family before leaving, but she said, “safety wasn’t a concern once I got there, and research can sometimes confirm biases when they may not be true.” So, she suggests trying to find the sweet spot of researching your host country: you want to know what you’re walking into, but don’t obsess over every single thing that could possibly go wrong. 

She also emphasizes that the best way to learn about the politics of a region is simply to study there; you can read books and take classes, but nothing compares to experiencing local politics firsthand. In fact, Abigail became interested in Israeli politics after taking Dr. Creed’s World Politics class, where she learned about the conflict between Israel and Palestine. She says, “when you see a huge issue that seems unsolvable, it just makes you want to tackle it and be part of the solution.” In order to dive into this problem, she decided to spend a semester immersed in it. 

    Abigail wants to encourage more students to apply for the Gilman award; last year, she was the only CofC student to apply. Because part of the Gilman Scholarship includes completing a service project following your time abroad, Abigail is currently collaborating with the Center for International Education to help her peers learn how to make study abroad possible when it may not seem to be at first. 

Congratulations to Abigail for identifying a passion, squelching her fears, and embarking on a life-changing adventure!

 

under: Scholarships and Awards, Student

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