Kelley Abroad: U.S. Virgin Islands

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Good day from the beautiful U.S. Virgin Islands!

This semester I will be studying at the University of the Virgin Islands on St. Thomas. I’ll be telling you more about my experiences as I spend the semester in the Caribbean.

As a write this blog on my phone at the local Bordeaux Agricultural Food Fair, surrounded by reggae music, local foods and juices, and handmade crafts and jewelry, I’m taking time to soak in this magnificent culture and beautiful scenery. In our first week here, we were given a tour of the island, including a view from Mountain Top of popular Magen’s Bay, and dipped my toes in the waters of Coki Beach, a popular spot for snorkeling.

I arrived one week before classes began, and have already explored so much of the island! I am participating in National Student Exchange, which is a program where you can spend a semester or year at different schools in the U.S., Canada, and U.S. territories while paying the same tuition rates as your home campus. The program is typically used by students to expose themselves to different areas and schools in North America. Personally, I am using this opportunity to learn more about the Virgin Islands and Caribbean, and how their culture affects business. Hopefully one day I will be able to work for an international company. Having this experience through NSE, along with studying abroad in Strasbourg, France this past summer, will give me a better understanding of international business.

While still a U.S. territory, the culture in St. Thomas is very different from Indiana and the rest of the United States. Formally conquered and colonized by seven countries, the people and way of life has been heavily influenced over time. Even as I left the airport, I was a little unnerved at driving on the left side of the road. Other cultural differences are taking more time to adjust to, such as saying “good morning” “good day” “good night,” as “hello” and “hi” is considered rude. There are many other differences at the university vs. IUPUI. UVI has only about 2,000 students, is a 5 minute walk to Brewer’s Bay Beach, and most of my classes include video conferences from students at UVI on St. Croix.

So far I am thrilled to have this opportunity to study in St. Thomas. I’m excited to learn more about the rich history, values, and way of life in the islands, and share my experience with you! Stay tuned for more posts about life in the islands.