Expanding Horizons

Crawford uses UA’s Education Abroad to enrich her college experience

By Joey Blackwell

Virginia native and UA junior Katy Crawford knows exactly who to credit when it comes to her love of travel.

“My mom helped me realize that passion when I was in high school,” Crawford said. “I love traveling.”

It was also Crawford’s mom’s influence that helped her decide on what college she would attend. Despite now living in Virginia, her mom is a native of Dothan, Ala. and is a big supporter of The University of Alabama. When it came time to pick her school, Crawford said her mom highly encouraged her to attend UA.

“She helped me fall in love with the school,” Crawford said.

With her enthusiasm for globetrotting along with her double-major in Italian and environmental science, Crawford knew where to connect after arriving on campus at UA.

“One of the first places I went when I came on campus was the Education Abroad office,” Crawford said. “I spoke to [Carolina Robinson], the director, and she got a feel for what I was looking for in terms of where to study.”

Robinson said she remembers her first meeting with Crawford at Bama Bound very well.

“She’s just infectious,” Robinson said. “She just has a very infectious spirit, and you know when it’s 7:30 in the morning at a Bama Bound and you’re on your 20th Bama Bound, and that there’s hundreds of students, you remember those who are bright-eyed and excited and ready to be there and ready to learn, and she was one of those.”

Katy Crawford stands in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.
Katy Crawford enjoys her 2018 trip to Italy.

Fueled by her determination to study abroad, Crawford researched locations and classes she could take, and started to plan out her semester abroad.

In the summer of 2018, after her sophomore year, she took her first trip through Education Abroad to Italy. There, she studied Italian at the Leonardo Da Vinci School for Languages in Florence.

“It was an amazing trip,” Crawford said. “I loved it. The teachers were great, and the students were fun, too. I had people in my class from all over. There were teachers learning. There were nuns learning. It was very interesting just to see the diversity in the classroom.”

When she returned to start her junior year last fall, Crawford was able to accept a position as student assistant at the Education Abroad office, where she still works today. Crawford handles many tasks for the office, including assisting fellow students with planning their trips.

“I make appointments, take transcripts to the registrar, and peer advise students,” Crawford said. “Basically whatever needs to be done I help with.”

After her trip to Italy, and now working for Education Abroad, Crawford never thought she would be able to study abroad a second time. At the encouragement of Robinson, Crawford applied for the Gilman Scholarship, which is a scholarship funded by the U.S. Department of State dedicated to those with limited financial resources who desire to study abroad.

Crawford was awarded the scholarship, and now plans on traveling to Belize this summer to study her other major, environmental science.

“It all happened so fast, but Education Abroad is amazing,” Crawford said. “I love it.”

Crawford also has some advice for students who are considering studying abroad:

Crawford sits at an office table and advises a fellow student on Education Abroad opportunities through UA. Brochures lay on the table.
Crawford advises a fellow student on Education Abroad opportunities through UA.

“I would advise students to come into the office,” Crawford said. “We have Study Abroad 101, which is every day at 2 p.m., and we have interns in the office that go over the first steps like choosing a program and making sure credits will come back, deciding where you want to go and when you want to go during the year, and when it will work out best for you.”

If students are hesitant on looking into Education Abroad because of uncertainty if major-specific classes are offered, Crawford also offers encouragement in that arena.

“There are so many disciplines and locations offered,” Crawford said. “There are some majors that are a little more difficult than others to find major-specific classes once you get into the higher level, but anybody can go and you can go pretty much anywhere. It’s amazing.”

Crawford said she is grateful to Education Abroad, who have helped mold her college experience at UA.

“They are really good at encouraging you to do certain things and to take certain opportunities,” Crawford said. “I love Education Abroad.”