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A Study Abroad Experience: Elise Ulrich ’23
Art major Elise Ulrich ’23 studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France during the spring 2022 semester. She spent the semester studying art history, painting and drawing, and the French language. Not only was Elise immersed in French culture, but she also got to visit many European countries, including a trip to Romania to serve Ukrainian refugees.
Serving the Lord in a New Community
Elise says her time in France was nothing short of amazing. She was able to plug into the culture, even finding an international church to attend, and she enjoyed the amazing food, friendly people, and beautiful sights.
One challenge but simultaneous blessing Elise faced while abroad was adjusting from the Covenant community (where she was constantly surrounded by believers) to a community filled with many non-believers, including her roommates and housemates. She says she relied on the Lord in a new way because of the challenge, and this experience gave her a glimpse into life after Covenant. While she missed the strong biblical community at Covenant, she is immensely grateful for her experience abroad because her faith grew in so many new ways and she learned to choose Jesus daily.
During her spring break, Elise traveled to Romania to serve in a church that opened its doors and resources to refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. She and her team cleaned laundry, organized clothes, made beds, and talked with Ukrainian refugees. Elise says she witnessed unthinkable sadness in the people she served, but it was accompanied by hope which can only come from God. She comments, “Living alongside people whose lives were wrecked and seeing their grasp onto Jesus proved how good God is. It was a time where I put my life into perspective of what truly matters, a heavenly perspective.”
Elise’s Academic and Spiritual Growth
This past semester gave Elise a mission mindset, which she attributes to living alongside people who don’t know Jesus. Knowing she may be their only representation of Christ, Elise sought to show her classmates, as well as the refugees she served, that she is different from the world because of Jesus. When people commented on her different way of life, she explained that it’s because of Christ and has nothing to do with her own strength. Not only was a semester abroad a wonderful academic learning experience for Elise, but it was also a time where her dependence on Christ grew.