Chris Collins Studies Abroad This Spring Trimester


Katie Fikes

The earth has seven continents. Within these continents are 196 countries. 7 billion people inhabit these countries. Many amazing sights can be seen; many breathtaking experiences can be had; and many places can be visited.

This world is a busy place because it is made of countless smaller “subordinating” worlds.

Unfortunately, many people will only experience the part of this incredible world where they were born and raised. Only a few will get to take a journey into the world’s mysteries.

USAO’s own Chris Collins will be taking one of these expeditions into a new world.

Collins, a senior political science major from Hugo, Oklahoma, is the recipient of the Brad Henry Scholarship. He will be spending the spring trimester studying in Wales, and in doing so, he will venture into a new world: studying abroad.

Collins was selected to take part in a program that sends students from across the state to study for a semester in Wales. He will leave in January and come back to Oklahoma in late June and during those six months across the pond, Collins said he will have the chance to travel and have fun while taking a few interesting classes though a local university.

During his stay he will be living on the campus of Swansea University while taking a few classes. Although he will not enroll until he gets there, he has a few classes he hopes he will get to take.

First, he hopes to get into Public Policy about Social Welfare in Europe because it correlates with what he wants to pursue after college. Secondly, he wants to get into a course called War and Peace in the Nuclear Age simply because it sparked interest in him and USAO does not offer a class of its kind. And lastly, he wants to take Spanish. Traveling half way around the world to study Spanish may seem unnecessary but Collins said he hasn’t “had the chance to take it [Spanish] yet.”

So why was Collins chosen over all other applicants? What set him apart? He has his own theories as to why.

He worked really hard on his essay in the application. He said he focused on what he as a person and a professional would bring back from an experience of this sort.

“This type of travel would be beneficial for my education, but also my professional goals and the things I want to do in life,” Collins said.

Collins said these goals he wants to achieve are “to ultimately go to law school and get involved with politics.” Because he is a political science major, he already has a jump on what exactly he wants to look at while in the United Kingdom in order to help him grow and reach his goals.

Public policy is a huge concept he has studied intensively in several of his courses. Therefore, he thinks it is important to see how other countries deal with public issues. Seeing first hand how the British deal with such issues will be an adventure and a great learning opportunity for Collins to bring back to Oklahoma.

Having the perspective of how the British system works will be beneficial and refreshing for Collins because he said we, American’s, tend to ignore solutions from other places simply because we don’t really know what they look like. He said this trip will allow him to “be able to look at our policy issues that we face here with a new lens and have a new international perspective.”

Although the nature of the trip is to “study abroad”, Collins has different intentions. He is more excited about getting to travel and backpack across Europe.

The past summer Collins had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica for independent study with Dr. Brown and other USAO students. This trip showed him how to develop “travel skills” and it gave him “the travel bug,” Collins said.

That travel bug is drawing on him to go and see all of Europe that he can while he is there. He is more excited about traveling to places such as the British Parliament buildings in London than being in a classroom. Therefore, because of his interest in British politics, the places that are on the top of his places-to-see list are the countries’ capitals and their parliament buildings.

“I follow their politics and keep up with how it all works, so I want to stand in the place where it happens everyday,” Collins said. He wants to say, “I was in the middle of something big, something that is bigger than me.” And his number one destination is to see the British Parliament Building.

However, he is interested in seeing as much of Europe as possible, not just the political sites. Places like the Eiffel Tower, the Coliseum, and Westminster Abbey are high on his list of sites to see. He is excited about seeing in person places he grew up seeing on television.

Collins said, “being exposed to the places where some of the greatest cultural work of western civilization has happened will be beneficial for me.”

Although this is cliché, Collins wants to come back as a more cultured person. He wants to be able to compare what he observes and experiences with America’s culture.

His main focus of the trip is to complete his schooling at USAO in a way that will tie the university’s unique IDS program and liberal arts all together. It will be his last semester to finish before he graduates with a bachelor’s degree.

Collins said he wants this trip to be “a summation of my education.” He wants to “find myself, and put everything I have learned so far in my life to form my own opinions and philosophy in life.”

So, as Collins boards the plane to take the longest plane ride he has ever been on, many thoughts will run through his mind. He will have the fears and anxieties of moving in and starting as a freshman. However, those thoughts will be out trumped by all the adventure he will meet throughout his stay. He will meet them head on and will truly know what it is like in another world.