When he first thought about enrolling in a Study Abroad program, Lance McGraw’s initial thought was less than positive.
“My first impression was there is no way we can afford that. At first I blew it off,” he said.
As McGraw and his wife started looking into the Maricopa Community Colleges Study Abroad program, they discovered the affordability the program offered as well as other opportunities for academic support. Armed with this new information, McGraw began seriously considering a trip through GateWay’s Prague classes.
“My wife studies art and she thought Prague would be a great opportunity because there is a lot of rich art history there. My great-grandmother and great-grandfather came from Prague so I thought it would be great to visit the ‘homeland’ so to speak.”
McGraw and his wife looked at the pros and cons and decided this was something they wanted to do.
As McGraw sat aboard British Airways flight 288 in May of 2014, he couldn’t help but marvel at the fact that he was taking a trip of a lifetime – it felt unreal, almost like a dream.
“When we arrived in Prague it was dark, but it was neat because we stayed at this little château that had been converted into a hotel,” said McGraw. “It was really incredible to think of the amount of history that was there.”
Although the trip had structured days, it also allowed free time for students to discover Prague and other countries. The McGraws took advantage of this free time and traveled to Austria and Poland as well.
“It was nice to see how other people lived and see how major events in history had affected that country, things that we had read about,” said McGraw. “We went to Auschwitz and it was one of these places you have to see to understand what tragedy happened there.”
The experience brought a new appreciation of world history and the birth of America.
“You could look at a building and realize that it was older than America itself.”
Out of all his travel through Europe, there was one specific experience that stood out for McGraw.
“There was a Czech artist, Alphonse Mucha, who made these humongous murals. It took him 20 years of his life to paint these. The amount of detail in these paintings was extremely impressive. A picture would never do these masterpieces justice, you have to stand right there in front of it and just go ‘wow,’ it was a moving experience.”
McGraw is glad he was able to take advantage of this study abroad opportunity and found it to be more affordable than he initially thought. Both him and his wife received scholarships to help cover the largest costs of the trip.
“It is amazing once you make the decision to go and you start working towards it how things will fall into place,” he says.
For information about GateWay’s Study Abroad in Prague program please visit our Prague page. A free information session will take place on March 25 from 3-4 p.m. in IE2213.