Bulldog adventures

Ferris students open up about their adventures abroad

Ferris students wear traditional Russian princess dresses.
Ferris students wear traditional Russian princess dresses. Photo Courtesy of: Alex Finta
Ferris offers many chances for its students to experience life bigger than Big Rapids.

Alex Finta and Melanie Lobsinger took complete advantage of those opportunities this summer and lived to tell the tale of their journeys.

Finta, a junior in Music Industry Management, embarked on a journey to Moscow, Russia with twelve other Ferris students.

For two weeks, Finta and the others were aboard a cruise on the Volga River that left from Moscow and stopped at several destinations on its way to St. Petersburg.

“I wanted to go to Russia to learn about their culture and to get the credits I needed to graduate this year,” said Finta. “The coolest parts of the trip were seeing St. Basil’s Cathedral and going to the Russain Ballet. At one of the stops we even got to put on traditional Russian princess outfits.”

Although she enjoyed the exposure to the Russian lifestyle, Finta was surprised at the differences between Russian and American culture.

“Russians don’t smile at each other,” she said. “They always have a straight face.”

Despite leaving her comfort zone and North America for the first time, Finta said going to Russia was one of the biggest moments of her life and she loved every minute of it.

Melanie Lobsinger, a junior Architecture and Sustainability/Facility Management student, also stepped out of her comfort zone this summer by traveling to the United Arab Emirates, a country located in the Middle East.

“I applied to a scholarship called the William Jefferson Clinton Scholarship, which grants ten students a semester the opportunity to study at the American University in Dubai,” Lobsinger said. “I didn’t think I was going to get it, but when I did, I was stoked.”

Lobsinger said that she had always wanted to travel, but had never thought of the Middle East as a destination.

“It scared me at first, but it also excited me to know that I would be thrown into an atmosphere completely divergent from anything I had ever experienced before,” she said.

Lobsinger expected to learn about the culture and architecture, and to visit intriguing places that would leave her stunned.

“Sure, I did those things, but none of those things were what impacted me most about the trip,” she said. “I was comfortable in America and was most definitely not in this new environment.”

Some of the opportunities Lobsinger embraced on her trip included dune bashing, camel riding, swimming in the Indian Ocean, visiting the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, and ascending over 1,200 feet in the tallest building in the world—the Burj Khalifa.

However, through her experiences in Dubai, Lobsinger learned more about herself than anything else.

“I learned to live and live fully,” she said. “I gained an unprecedented amount of independence; a motivation to try new things, and a desire to never stop doing. Because there’s a world of foods out there that I’ve never tried, structures I haven’t mentally taken apart and analyzed, people I haven’t met, and stories begging to be written and retold. ”

After discovering her true self after a summer semester abroad, Lobsinger leaves others who also carry a sense of wanderlust with some advice.

“Please discover something new today,” Lobsinger said, “because though you may think you’re going to learn something about the world, you may be pleasantly surprised by a new discovery about yourself.”