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A study abroad experience has the potential to be life-changing, and criminal justice sciences student Tony Crudup would agree with that statement. “My experience in Dubrovnik, Croatia has been, by far, the best choice I have made for myself in a long time,” said Crudup. “I embraced the daily challenge to broaden my horizons and expand my perception on everything I believed to be true. My global perception will never be the same because of this experience.”

Crudup and Darian Saal, another criminal justice sciences major, were part of a group that studied in Croatia for two weeks with Illinois State University Professor Dawn Beichner. Both students chose to take the two-week course that focused on victimology for six credit hours toward their degrees; students can choose between the six-hour and the three-hour option.

“This class experience would resonate with anyone who yearns for change in their community,” said Crudup. “The best part for me was that the atmosphere included educators, lawyers, and ambitious students who were pursuing their higher education.

“I can now say that I’ve networked with professors from all across the world and shared ideas in a fruitful learning environment with them. These individuals gave me hope, and goals to further my education to better myself and my community.”

Saal echoed this sentiment: “I learned so much about other people and other countries. I learned about Croatia, of course, but also about Canada and Germany. I was surprised that I made such strong connections with other people at the conference; I have very good friends in Canada and Germany now.”

“Stereotyping is something that everyone does, inadvertently,” Saal said. “I was afraid that no one would like me since I am American, and then I found out that my German friends were afraid of the same thing.”

Saal really enjoyed her experience. “You get to experience things that you never could before, and seeing the ocean was amazing.”

The study abroad experience was eye-opening outside of the classroom for Crudup, as well: “The world is way more connected than we give it credit for. That moment when you stop focusing on how different you are from everyone else and start realizing the similarities, the more comfortable the experience will become. With that being said, I believe studying and traveling abroad should be an opportunity everyone should experience, no matter what career field they are pursuing.”

“When students are considering this trip, I would tell them not to take another class during this experience,” said Saal. “This experience is so amazing; you want to be able to focus on this and give it your undivided attention.”

“I would highly recommend this trip, but would make sure that you approach the experience with an open heart for global interactions,” Crudup said. “Accents will be strong, broken English will be spoken, and the majority of the individuals involved will speak multiple languages (which surprised me). The daily excursions, boat rides, and island hopping were all key highlights and favorite moments. Be humble, break out of your egocentric shell and be willing to be uncomfortable, and you’ll be surprised on the difference this outlook will have on your abroad experience. I guarantee it!”