MCKEESPORT, Pa. — Imagine waking up and taking classes in another country, halfway around the world: That was Raeann Sleith’s world last semester. Sleith, a Norwin-native and senior dual-majoring in business and psychology, spent the Fall 2019 semester studying in Vienna, Austria, as part of Penn State’s study abroad program.
Sleith enrolled at Penn State Greater Allegheny in Fall 2016 not knowing what her four years would hold. Her first three years on the campus, located in McKeesport, were filled with numerous activities. Sleith joined student organizations, played on the women’s softball team, danced in THON 2018, traveled to Puerto Rico on an Alternative Spring Break trip, and worked as an Admissions intern. However, one thing was missing — studying abroad.
“During the Fall 2018 semester, it was starting to hit me that I was running out of time to study abroad,” said Sleith. “I traveled to Europe in high school, and I had been itching to go back.”
In her desire to study abroad, Sleith found assistance through Greater Allegheny’s faculty and staff.
“I met with Dr. [Doug] Charles, professor of history at Greater Allegheny, and started looking into programs that would work with my majors,” said Sleith. “I contacted advising, the registrar and professors to help map out what my remaining courses would be and when I should take them.”
With the vast number of Penn State resources at her fingertips, Sleith had one final decision to make: Where to study?
“I researched the programs available through the Global Penn State website, initially thinking that I would decide to study abroad somewhere in Germany,” said Sleith. “While looking at the places I wanted to visit in relation to one another, Vienna seemed like a nice location since it is in central Europe.”
Sleith enrolled in five courses — German 201; Cross-Cultural Psychology; Personality Theories and Psychopathology; Arts, Entertainment and Cultural Management; and Austrian and European Youth Cultures — at the IES Abroad Vienna; an institution that services multiple study-abroad programs across the nation. In addition to Slieth’s course load, she had a mandatory Fall Break Field Trip, to Prague, Telc, Dresden, and Leipzig.
“The trip was interesting,” said Sleith. “We were able to see some of the aftereffects World War II had on Dresden and we were able to see what areas had to be rebuilt after the historic bombing in 1945.”
Outside of class, Sleith traveled the continent to experience thermal baths in Budapest, a soapbox race in Zagreb and castle ruins in Wachau. Sleith’s travel companions included friends from San Diego, California; Landen, Pennsylvania; and Nashville, Tennessee.
“I was lucky to make friends early in the semester, so I could plan future trips with them,” said Sleith. “The experiences we had on our trips helped us develop friendships that will last a lifetime.”
Sleith continues to share her stories with her peers and is an advocate for studying abroad.
“It allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and see the world from a different point of view,” said Sleith. “I got to see many of the places that I have only heard about in classes. It makes education more lifelike, and I feel a personal connection to those places.”
To read more of Sleith’s study-abroad adventures visit her blog.