Study abroad program offers valuable experience

Lillian Moss

Basic things like getting toilet paper, going to the grocery store and getting fresh water are just a few things that get taken for granted in the United States. 

Nicole Stormann, senior and resident assistant at Washburn University, has studied abroad twice in China and once in the Philippines. The experiences that she has gained while studying abroad have been life changing.

The first time Stormann studied abroad was in 2009 when she used her Washburn Transformational Experience and studied in China for six weeks and taught English. She then came back and presented all the information she learned in a presentation called, “China then and now.” It was a presentation about the differences between traditional and modern Chinese culture. 

Getting necessities and getting fresh water were both adventures for Stormann while she was in China. She had to bring toilet paper everywhere she went because a lot of places didn’t have it. In addition to that, water was only delivered as needed in five gallon water jugs. And trying to communicate that she needed it was often difficult. 

“It’s really tiring trying to get necessities when you have no idea where or how to get them,” said Stormann. “You can’t drink the drinking water. You can’t brush your teeth with the water out of the tap.”

On her second trip to China in 2011 Stormann had the roles reversed and actually became the student while she was taught Mandarin at the University of Science and Technology in Inner Mongolia.  She has even managed to use some of the Mandarian that she has learned on some of her international residents that live in her hall at the LLC.

“Just to say something that is familiar to them is exciting. They’re thrown off by it sometimes and it’s cool, I really enjoy speaking it,” said Stormann.

Although Stormann loved China, most of her memorable experiences come from the Philippines. 

Stormann studied culture and visited different universities in Manila, Philippines. She also got to snorkel and hike volcanoes. It was a lifetime experience for her and she would love to go back. Studying abroad has taught her patience and it has given her an appreciation of the smaller things in life.

“The Philippines was just an adventure…. it’s like paradise.” Said Stormann. 

Studying abroad can help students learn different cultures and languages. Washburn currently has more than 200 international students who are studying here from various countries such as China, Paraguay and Saudi Arabia. Currently, Washburn offers three different study abroad programs:  a short-term faculty led program, a direct exchange program and a student independent program.  

If you are interested in studying abroad and would like to get more information, feel free to visit Washburn’s study abroad website at

Lillian Moss is a Journalism 2 student. Reach her at [email protected]