Athens, Greece
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Raymond French

Liberal Arts Major: Psychology, Sociology
Hometown: Gloucester Township, New Jersey
Experience Time: Summer 2022

Give us a brief summary of your experience?

For six weeks, I had the opportunity to travel to many cultural hotspots in Greece, both on the mainland and on the surrounding islands. Mainly set in Athens, I studied the psychology of religious belief and cross-cultural psychology. I got to witness the evolution of religious belief first-hand by visiting ancient Greek temples engaging in polytheism and the religious buildings of the Abrahamic monotheistic religions (churches, synagogues, mosques). What I was learning in class directly reflected what I was engaging with in my physical environment. Also, cross-cultural psychology was very applicable when navigating a culture as rich as Greek culture.

How did this experience impact you academically?

These classes, even if not taken abroad, are quite life-changing and eye opening, as you see the psychological mechanisms behind culture and identity. As a psychology major and a sociology major, this opportunity was great hands-on experience in social psychology and sociology. While I loved every moment of in-class academics, most of my learning was outside of class, discovering my own identity and place within cultures.

"While I loved every moment of in-class academics, most of my learning was outside of class, discovering my own identity and place within cultures."

How will this experience impact your career goals?

I started my collegiate studies as only a psychology major, who was more interested in the cognitive science portion of psychology. As I developed my interests, I realized that I was more interested in social psychology, so I decided to work towards a second major in sociology. This experience has even furthered my passion for sociology, and I now favor sociology over psychology. The interactions with so many different people from across the globe had a great social influence over me. So, my career goals are now more oriented towards being a sociologist in some capacity.

How has the College of the Liberal Arts helped you to find and/or succeed in this experience (e.g., adviser, faculty, staff, enrichment funds, etc.)?

My academic advisor, Rachel Zimmerman, helped me tremendously throughout the entire process. While navigating the education abroad website, she helped me to find a program, and she provided me with a recommendation. My psychology research lab advisor, Dr. Terri Vescio, also helped me along the way and provided some insight for me. The College of Liberal Arts provided me with enrichment funds, which I was very appreciative of and it took a big burden off of my shoulders.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

I always was interested in studying abroad, but as a Paterno Fellow, it gave me more motivation to embark on a study abroad opportunity. Also, the Paterno Fellows Program provided me with some enrichment funds to help alleviate the cost of the experience.

For more information on internships for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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