Student goes global for eight months

Published on: March 17, 2024

Student goes global for eight months

Eric Kenny in Bangkok, Thailand

Eric Kenny had always wanted to travel abroad. Starting last May, he lived his dream for eight straight months.

Following a three-month stint working in the Middle East and Europe, Kenny spent the entire fall semester studying at Mahidol University International College (MUIC) in Thailand.

The first leg of his global journey started on May 11, 2023, just days after his last final exam. Hired to staff a trip abroad, he experienced the cultures of Israel, Poland, Germany, and Ireland first-hand. He flew back to the States on August 18 – for a whole 14 hours – before he left for Bangkok, Thailand, and study abroad at MUIC.

The 23-year-old Political Science major unabashedly admits that he is “fascinated with the world and cultural differences.”

At MUIC, he took classes in cooking, political philosophy, history (war from an Asian perspective), the Thai language and culture, and basketball. It was his experience outside the classroom, however, that left an indelible impression.

Eric Kenny (black shirt, white hat) with other international students at Mahidol University International College.

“It was unbelievable. The world is way larger than I’ve even been prepared to admit,” he says. “If you live in Bangkok, you live in a beautiful high-rise building or you live in a metal shack, but you would never know by the people’s faces where they live.

“Thailand is called the land of smiles. Despite the immense wealth gap, people are very responsive and willing to help. I saw how happy people are with literally nothing.”

There were groups of American, European, and Australian students at MUIC, but Kenny was the only foreigner in most of his classes. People at the university spoke English, but he had to learn on the fly how to order food, give directions to taxi drivers, and navigate other aspects of daily life.

To plan his study abroad in Thailand, Kenny approached Victor Betancourt, the associate provost for global engagement.

“Victor made it incredibly easy,” Kenny recalls. “I walked in office and asked for study abroad experiences ‘anywhere but Europe.’ I wanted something outlandish. He showed me the options and gave me a realistic look at the choices. He made it an effortless process for me, and Thailand worked out perfectly.”

During his semester at MUIC, Kenny was able to visit Cambodia, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan.

“I think every student should study abroad. It would be silly not to go. America is gorgeous, don’t get me wrong, but there is no experience in the world like living in another culture and becoming a ‘local.’”

MUIC is Thailand's first public international college. According to its website, the university’s primary goal is “to develop and foster a global mindset.” As far as Eric Kenny is concerned, they accomplished their mission.





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