Chloe Hockham, a junior in business administration and international studies, has had a passion to travel since she was 12 years old and watched her older sister backpack from France to Italy over a three-week trip. Her goal was finally realized when she embarked on a semester-long study abroad program followed by an eight-week solo backpacking journey through eight countries.
Hockham originally set out to study abroad for a semester through International Studies Abroad’s Sevilla program with the Universidad de Menedez Pelayo in Sevilla, Spain, but her two-week stay with relatives in England allowed for her to plan a much longer trip. She planned a two-month trip all by herself through 19 cities in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Croatia, Italy, France, and Spain by buses, trains, and ferries.
“I had honestly never thought about anyone coming with me,” said Hockham when asked why she chose to travel alone for two months after her program ended. “I asked a few people from my program if they wanted to join if they had the means to, but I knew I would be fine on my own if no one accepted my offer.”
Hockham faced many challenges throughout her travels that she had to overcome including a language barrier between her and her host family, health issues, and staying organized throughout her time abroad. She had only taken an intermediate level Spanish class at NC State prior to her program in Sevilla and had to work extremely hard in her classes and with her host family to bridge the language barrier. During her travels, Hockham developed a kidney infection in Austria that needed immediate medical attention, and she struggled to stay organized with documents and money while on her own.
However, Hockham learned from her challenges and is now sharing her experiences as a Pack Abroad ambassador and hopefully a Global Ambassador next year, as well as with students within Poole College. She claims that before coming to NC State and studying abroad, she had never been in a very diversified setting and her journey allowed her to step outside of the box she felt she had to fit into. Hockham believes that her development as a Poole student wouldn’t have happened if she didn’t travel alone and step outside of her comfort zone.
“It was out of a movie, I went to Morrocco for spring break with some of the students from my program where we went to the Sahara Desert and rode camels to a pool together,” said Hockham as she recalled her best memory of her study abroad semester and her travels. “At one point as we were sitting outside of our tents at night, there was a shooting star that went over us and it was just the most surreal moment.”
While her biased recommendation is to visit Sevilla, as it has become one of her favorite cities, Hockham recommends that anyone looking to study abroad should plan on fully immersing themselves into the culture and the program. While most people enjoy their study abroad experience, she says that those who truly rave about their study abroad experience are those who took every opportunity the program had to offer.
“Taking time to study, live and work abroad during college has a profound impact on students,” said Robert Sandruck, director of global programs at Poole. “It helps students develop stronger cultural awareness, keen problem-solving skills, and an appreciation for the diversity that exists around the world creating a global mindset. As students graduate, the experiences and skills they developed while being abroad will have a strong impact on their personal and professional lives.”