Luka Pierce, Class of 2017, has her entire future ahead of her as a graduating senior, but one thing she’s already checked off her to-do list is a trip across the world. Last summer, Luka traveled to India as part of the Experiment in International Living summer abroad program thanks to a heads-up from her Ellis college counselor. From a homestay with an Indian family in a village in the foothills of the Himalayas, to seeing the Taj Mahal in person, to experiencing an entirely new culture with her peers, Luka’s study abroad experience was the trip of a lifetime. As she prepares for graduation and her next chapter, Luka reflects on her time abroad and her experience at Ellis.
Do you have any favorite stories from India? My homestay family grew apple and pear trees on their property and we didn’t get to eat fruit very often, so we were always hungry for it. One day, before my homestay sister and I returned home for the evening, we decided to pick a few peaches at the edge of our family’s property, which also meant scaling a small mountain to get to them. As it turns out, peach season was over and the peaches actually belonged to our neighbor. While we both have to live with the guilt of stealing those sour peaches, it was a hilarious moment.
What inspired you to study abroad in India? The opportunity presented itself when I first read an email about the program. Public health and Indian culture have always interested me, so when I saw the program was fully funded, I knew I had to apply. Needless to say, I’m glad I did.
For Ellis students considering study abroad programs in the future: is there any wisdom you’d want to pass on to them? What would you want them to know? Go into everything with an open mind and a positive attitude. Every moment abroad is precious, so you want to take advantage of every opportunity you can. I would also say not to ascribe values to unfamiliar practices or ideas, things abroad may be different from your culture back home but one isn’t necessarily better than the other.
What is your best memory of Ellis? It’s impossible to pick just one! I think getting to grow and experience life alongside my classmates has been an altogether awesome experience and I wouldn’t trade any of it. If I had to choose, I might suggest the springtime after exams when we manage to spend hours outside every day on picnic blankets, just hanging out and joking with each other.
Was there a teacher or teachers who had a particularly strong influence on you during your time at Ellis? Ms. Holtgraver has influenced me a lot and I’ve learned a great deal from her. She’s also been my adviser for two years, and my teacher a year before that, so I feel like I’ve grown a lot with her. Sometimes we have hour-long conversations about topics like genetic modification and the ethics of space travel which always remind me why I love science so much.
Favorite class at Ellis? I’m a pretty STEM-oriented person, so I’ve always enjoyed my science classes the most. Right now I take AP Physics and AP Bio and I enjoy them both a lot. I think the coolest thing is getting to learn the science behind the things you do every day, like how you digest your lunch and the mechanics behind opening doors. I also really enjoy French class with Madame Callahan.
Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you? My mom has been the greatest influence in my life. She’s consistently taught me the power of hard work and how to be independent. She inspires me to persevere even when a task feels impossible to accomplish.
What does your future hold? My futures holds learning! Learning in a classroom and learning through personal exploration. It also holds lots of laughter and optimism. I’m not certain of anything else other than these.
If you could interview anyone from your life living or dead, but not a celebrity, who would it be and why? If I were more of a journalist than I am, I’d love to interview Dr. Bedell. She wrote an entire textbook and practically taught a class based on her own lived experiences. I can’t even imagine what sorts of things she’s seen throughout her time traveling.
The piece of technology you can’t live without? I don’t think I could live without a clock of some sort as I would lose track of time really quickly.