Mullins reflects on semester abroad

Mullins reflects on semester abroad

Kate Mullins considers herself a homebody.

So what better way to gain a sense of independence than take a semester to study abroad?

The Albion College junior who is a member of the women's lacrosse team spent the fall semester at the University of Glasgow where she studied the Scottish Enlightenment and how the ideas that came out of that period continue to affect modern life.

"I learned how to be by myself," the Royal Oak, Mich., product said. "There was a coming to terms with the idea of being out of the country for the first time, except for Canada. Suddenly, I was without immediate access to my support system as I knew it back home. That can be anywhere from having to walk 15 minutes to class or cooking for myself. There's a sense of independence I got from this experience."

Mullins said her classes fulfilled a requirement for Albion's Prentiss M. Brown Honors Institute and there was time to explore sites that helped students see the difference between the elite and rural life.

"In class, we examined the ideas of Adam Smith and how everyone sees him as an economist but he was so much more than that," Mullins said when asked to expand on what she learned about the Scottish Enlightenment. "He did a lot in philosophy and the way people think, but his name has been synonymous with business. I don't know many business majors who haven't read The Wealth of Nations or something relating to his work. David Hume was another great philosopher. A lot of medical advances, and the idea of a gentleman physician and how people saw the holistic approach where you are treating the person and their illness.

"We had a few off campus experiences and the first weekend before classes started everyone in the program went into the highlands and we saw a ruined castle and learned about the history of that," she added. "We went to St. Andrews and later on in the semester we went to Alloway, so we went and saw where the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns was born and lived the first few years of his life. It was interesting to contrast that with lower class rural life with Culzean Castle which was an example how the elite and high class lived in the 18th century.

"I do have some Scottish ancestry and I feel like Scotland is a country that has been disregarded in its past and, especially with England, where it's seen as the little brother," she finished. "It was cool to see this country emerge during this time, not just as England's charge but as its own nation, having its own identity."

A pre-veterinary student, Mullins said the experience with a different style in the classroom will help her adjust to what she expects to have in her future studies.

"I didn't do anything with animals specifically while I was in Scotland, but from what I've heard from veterinary schools, the style is more of a lecture at the front of the class with the instructor telling you what you need to know," she said. "The experience of learning in Scotland has given me a taste of what I'm in for. Sometimes my whole grade may come down to one midterm and a final exam. I had an opportunity to experience that type of learning without having my career on the line."

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