Campus Life

UWF students explore overseas opportunities

At the University of West Florida, students are not limiting their education to a classroom in Pensacola, or even the United States.

Shannon Hemmings and her friend and fellow UWF student, Naomi Eustache, spent four weeks in Paris this past summer to learn French at one of UWF’s partner institutions through the study abroad program.

“I’ve always loved to travel, but I had never traveled on my own as an adult,” said Hemmings, a junior telecommunications/film major. “I knew I would grow and experience different cultures this way.”

In addition to learning about France’s culture and language, the students also got to meet people from around the world.

“Meeting all of the students and getting to hear where everyone was from was mind-blowing,” Hemming said. “We heard Palestine, Scotland, China or Japan. It was incredible.”

Hemming posted video blogs on her YouTube while she was there to document her trip. She captured memorable moments, including getting lost on the first day in Paris, a trip to the Eiffel Tower and Versailles and more. “The trip taught me so much more than I ever expected,” Hemmings said.

“I learned to let go and have fun,” she said. “I learned to go with the flow, to make challenges fun, and to be positive and put myself out there.

In the videos, Hemmings offers tips for other students who would like to study abroad. Among them: don’t overpack, wear comfortable shoes, buy an adaptor before you leave, don’t listen to stereotypes and meet everyone in your classes.

“Be ready to take risks and have fun,” she said. “Be who you are, because everyone is going to love you. You’re going to make friends and have an amazing experience.”

To view Hemmings’ video blogs, visit her YouTube channel.

Brittney Duke, a senior advertising major, also embarked on a trip across the Atlantic Ocean this summer, for a two month internship at an advertising company in London. She got the idea from a class assignment that involved finding a currently listed “dream job.”

Having always been fascinated with London, Duke told her teacher, Eileen Perrigo, that her dream would be to find a job there. When Perrigo mentioned a previous student who had gotten an internship in London, Duke was hooked.

“This sparked my interest, and I began researching overseas internships,” Duke said. “I knew that if I was able to do this internship, not only would it be an awesome life experience, but it would also look great on a resume.”

Duke set up her internship with Cloth Court Communications through Absolute Internship, a program that helps students find and obtain overseas internships. She and four other students from Canada, Sweden, Hong Kong and Columbia stayed in student housing and participated in weekend outings and activities provided through the program.

For Duke, one of the most memorable experiences was being in London for the 2012 Olympics and being able to attend the beach volleyball event.

“Prior to the start of the Olympics, there was so much preparation being done and so much buzz about it,” she said. “You could feel the excitement in the air. It was common to see people decked out in all their countries’ colors; people with their faces and bodies painted, running around with flags and chanting their country’s name.”

Duke said her overseas experience was valuable in many ways, both personal and professional.

“I learned so much culturally during my experience,” she said. “Getting to see and talk to so many people from all over the world and learn about their cultures was an incredible experience. On top of just being there and living in London, I got real world work experience in my field of study.”

To read more about Duke’s adventures in London, visit her blog.

UWF currently has more than 30 partner institutions in 16 countries through its study abroad program, directed by the Office of Diversity and International Education and Programs. The office recently implemented AbroadOffice, a study abroad program and application management tool that will streamline the process for students. For additional information about study abroad and the application process, visit