Christopher Holloman, senior biology major, had the opportunity to study abroad last semester in Bangkok, Thailand.
Holloman took several courses at Mahidol University, an international college in Salaya, Thailand, that welcomes exchange students from universities and colleges all over the world. He coordinated his semester through ISA (International Studies Abroad), a company that provides college students in the United States with the opportunity to travel the world.
The classes Holloman took included microbiology and lab, ethics of bioscience, Thai history and an English elective.
Holloman explained that the level of difficulty in the classes compared to that of previous courses at Saint Vincent, but the learning style and approach were much different.
“In the U.S., there is absolutely a lot of competition in academics. When I was abroad it was different. Everyone encouraged each other to be successful and everyone shared ideas. We were encouraged to study in groups, so I definitely learned to study and work better with groups, rather than just trying to learn everything independently,” Holloman said.
Exchange students at the university are grouped by regions of the world to overcome language barriers, so Holloman was in classes with other American students. He met people from California, Missouri and other regions of Pennsylvania. He also had the chance to meet and interact with other students in the program that came from all over the world including Germany, India, Nepal, Tibet and England.
In addition to attending classes and studying, Holloman had the opportunity to explore Thailand and its culture.
Holloman visited an elephant sanctuary in the south east province of Thailand, where he got to swim with, ride and bathe elephants. The sanctuary provides a safe and caring home for elephants in an attempt to combat the widespread abuse of elephants throughout Southeast Asia.
Holloman also attended the Phi Ta Khon festival, or ghost festival, which celebrates the legends of ghosts that inhabit the mountains in Thailand. The three-day celebration involves natives dressing up in colorful masks and costumes, music, dancing and lots of traditional Thai food.
When the semester came to a close, Holloman continued his travels and went to Mannheim, Germany to visit his girlfriend who was also studying abroad. He explored various cities in Germany and surrounding countries. He visited Munich, the Cochem Castle, Bavaria and Salzburg.
Holloman noted that his travels taught him a lot, especially about patience.
“Patience is everything when you travel. There are language barriers, and every culture is different, so being able to adjust to others and be respectful of them is very important. In Thailand especially, because everything tends to run late,” Holloman said.
Holloman is originally from Middletown and is a graduate of Middletown Area High School. He will be graduating from Saint Vincent with his Bachelor of Science in May. He is currently in the application process to join the Peace Corp after he graduates.
Eventually Holloman would like to apply his biology degree to help developing countries with sustainability, specifically water. He wants people in all areas of the world to have access to clean, safe drinking water.
“I don’t care about making a lot of money,” Holloman said. “I want to make a difference in the world.”
In addition to his interest in sustainable water, Hollman enjoys DJing, listening to music and spending time with his little brothers.
Holloman also interns with ISA, where he helps students connect with programs to study abroad. Students can contact him with any questions or inquiries about studying abroad.
Holloman expressed his view on the importance of traveling.
“I think everyone should travel if they have the chance to. Don’t spend your money on things, spend it on experiences. You learn so much about other people, which is very important in life,” Holloman said.
Photos: Chris Holloman