Iola grad returns from back-to-back study abroad programs

Iola High School graduate Ella Taylor recently returned from Europe, where she participated in two study abroad programs through Brigham Young University.

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August 15, 2022 - 2:21 PM

Ella Taylor visits temples and buildings at the Roman Forum during the first of two study abroad programs. Courtesy photo

Ella Taylor sees a world of possibilities.

Taylor, a 2020 graduate of Iola High School, recently returned after two back-to-back study abroad programs. 

The experience has her thinking about future travel opportunities. Perhaps she might want to pursue her education internationally, such as applying to a doctorate program at Cambridge in England. Or maybe she will look for a job that allows her to travel or live abroad.

“I hadn’t thought about anything like that before,” she said. 

“Having the opportunity to travel so much all at once, now I want to do it more.”

THE DESIRE to travel goes back a few years, when her older sister had the opportunity to study abroad.

Taylor wanted to do the same after she began college at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, but the COVID-19 pandemic made international travel nearly impossible until this spring.

BYU offers a variety of study abroad programs. Taylor reviewed the list, looking for programs that would apply to her major in medical laboratory science. She applied to two, and was surprised when both were approved. She realized the timing would allow her to do both. 

“I thought, when am I going to have the opportunity to travel this much and this cheaply,” she said.

The first trip was focused on sociology and geography. Taylor spent six weeks traveling to several countries: Italy, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. A group of 32 students spent two to three days in each city, learning about the culture.

In Italy, Taylor took a pasta-making class. In Venice, they learned about the history. In Germany, they learned about World War II and stopped at a concentration camp.

Her second trip was focused more directly on her major. She spent about a month in England, Wales and France for a program on microbiology. The group of about 20 BYU students were all studying similar majors. 

Much of their time was spent talking to scientists, as well as visiting museums and cultural attractions. 

The group visited Cambridge, where they talked with a doctoral student about educational programs and partnership opportunities. 

“I thought that would be a really amazing option if I wanted to go in that direction,” Taylor said. 

THOUGH Taylor and her family have traveled in the United States, the trips were her first experience with international travel.

“It was my first international flight, my first time through customs,” she said. 

She left the U.S. with other BYU students, but because she didn’t come directly home with the first group, Taylor was on her own for all of the other flights.

She was impressed with how friendly and welcoming everyone was, no matter what country they visited. She appreciated the change in perspective that comes with seeing other cultures. 

For example, she used public transportation so much in Europe that it felt awkward to come home and need a car. 

“It’s just so much more compact. In Italy, we walked everywhere.”

And though it’s difficult to compare the various places she visited, Taylor admits she has a clear favorite when it comes to choosing where she might want to live: Italy.

“It was my favorite place to travel. The food was so good. The people were nice. And there was such diversity in the scenery, from the coast to the Alps.”

But if she were to choose where she might want to continue her education, Taylor would pick a different location: Cambridge.

TAYLOR has been home a little more than a week, and soon she’ll head back to BYU.

While at home, she’s been busy working at Allen County Regional Hospital as a PRN phlebotomist, which means she works when needed. Last summer, she took a phlebotomy technician training program.

She’ll be a junior when she returns to BYU, and plans to start taking specialized classes for the medical laboratory science program in January. 

“Once I’m in that program, I’ll probably focus on that and internship hours. That’s why I really wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to travel this summer.”

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