For five days, Mariah Clayson was able to travel with fellow ACES across the pond on a study abroad. The trip was made possible by the Southern Utah University Office of Learning Abroad, becoming a chance of a lifetime for Clayson.
ACES are Assistant Coaches for Excellence and Success. The group primarily focuses on being peer mentors for first-year students. ACES contact high school students once they are committed to SUU in the fall, helping them with any preparation needs. They become a one-stop-shop for students throughout their first year.
“We become a student’s first friend and face they know at SUU,” said Clayson. “We help students get settled and stick with them their entire first year. We aren’t experts on everything, but we’re well acquainted with campus and know where to direct students if we don’t have an answer.”
Clayson, a chemistry major, was able to travel to London, England on a study abroad trip. She was joined by coworkers and had a very detailed trip planned out for her.
“Kurt Harris, director of learning abroad at SUU, planned everything out with perfection,” said Clayson. “Instead of just visiting a museum and individually wandering around, he made scavenger hunts for us. There was a purpose behind every outing.”
Few challenges were faced while in London. There was not a language barrier, the money became easy to understand after the first day, and Clayson was surrounded by friends to help her alleviate the homesickness she usually feels when traveling.
“A main challenge on study abroads is behaving yourself the whole time,” said Clayson. “At home you can leave work and go be crazy and weird, but you can’t do that on a study abroad. You have to be normal.”
The trip gave Clayson a bit of a travel bug, increasing her desire to experience more. It also reactivated her motivation to finish school.
“Being my junior year, I struggled with continuing my studies,” said Clayson. “The trip revitalized me and made me want to be a more well-rounded person. I also learned to appreciate the arts and humanity more.”
Clayson and her fiance graduate in 2020, wanting to both spend a semester abroad and live outside the country. Fore more information on study abroad programs, visit the Office of Learning Abroad webpage.