Growing up in Kansas City, I always had a fascination with other cultures. In elementary school there were periods of times when I would immerse myself in research about Ancient Egypt or the Elizabethan Era. After having the opportunity to visit Thailand and then paying my way to Cuba, I knew I wanted international travel to be a large part of my life. After those two trips, there was no doubt that I would study abroad in college. However, it was not until my junior year of high school that I considered actually going to college abroad full time. My math tutor was the first person to suggest the University of St Andrews and gave me a few names of current students who lived in the Kansas City area. I got into contact with one who went to Rockhurst. After talking with him I was convinced I would be a student at the University of St Andrews. I applied in September and was thrilled to be accepted. The following September I dragged all my suitcases to Kansas City International Airport, and I was off to university!
Now going into my third year at university, I have experienced and learned so much by being completely immersed in a different culture. The University of St Andrews was a faintly known name around private schools in the Kansas City area; however, for a public school such as Shawnee Mission East, the University of St Andrews was unheard of. Since my acceptance to St Andrews, it has become more commonly known among East students. Over the past two years, I have been meeting with East students to talk about St Andrews and the university experience. When I was applying to the University of St Andrews, the closest school representative was in Chicago.
However, now there is a St Andrews school representative in Kansas! Over the last two to three years, there has been more interaction with private schools such as Rockhurst and public schools like Shawnee Mission East with University of St Andrews representatives. This is one of the many factors that is bringing a more international presence to Kansas City. Students from the area are realizing that they do not just have to spend one semester abroad but can fully immerse themselves in a different culture for all four years.
Having the opportunity to travel and be exposed to unfamiliar surroundings is so important in the development of young adults. As we mature and start making an impact in the communities that surround us, travel is an essential experience as it decreases ignorance and gives people a greater understanding for the world that exists outside of Kansas City. Our community is becoming an increasingly international city that has many spheres of influence. By having a school representative from the University of St Andrews within Kansas City is an important factor that can give high school students the opportunity to have a greater knowledge of the world we are a part of.
About the Author Kate Higgins is an undergraduate at the University of St Andrews pursuing a double major in International Relations and Social Anthropology.