With traveling come the thrills of adventure, experiencing new cultures and opportunities. After participating in International Student Volunteers in Australia, University of Kentucky student Milinda Gray knew she wanted to see more of the world. As a result, she followed her passion through the UK Education Abroad Program at Maejo University in Chiang Mai Province, Thailand, which eventually led to her current teaching position in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“I really love experiencing new cultures and thought interning abroad would be a great way to do so and gain valuable information,” said Gray. At Maejo University, she was assigned to the business and administration department, working very closely with students as they planned marketing campaigns for campus events.
After completing the internship, Gray stayed in Southeast Asia to explore and learn about new cultures. She considers this time in her life “a blessing” as she left her comfort zone and pushed herself to try new things. She recalls feeling nervous and excited all at once when she began traveling. However, she learned to handle her emotions and view every moment, whether good or bad, as a learning experience.
While touring Tibet after graduating in 2011, Gray made friends with people who teach English as a second language around the world. “Their stories seemed too good to be true. I wanted to experience what they had,” Gray said.
Gray took action and received her TESOL International Association (formerly, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification in Thailand. Shortly after, she moved to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and has been teaching there since 2012. She continues to embrace the lifestyle of her surroundings, treating each day as an opportunity to meet new people and appreciate a culture very different from her own.
“I’ve made lifelong friendships with both Saudi Arabians and travelers like myself,” Gray said. “I’ve been lucky enough to meet people from all walks of life. I love experiencing the Saudi Arabian culture and sharing these experiences with American travelers,” Gray added.
Gray is currently completing her master’s degree in integrated marketing communication through West Virginia University. After completing her degree in February, Gray will plan a trip to South America where she will backpack and work as a traveling teacher for a year. Gray is not entirely sure about her next step after South America. However, one thing is sure: This Wildcat plans to take life day by day and enjoy every moment.
To students considering an internship abroad, Gray advises students not to hesitate, to take advantage of the opportunity.
“I wish everyone could travel and experience a passion similar to mine,” Gray said.
Visit UK International Center’s Education Abroad and Exchanges website to learn more about the wide variety of opportunities provided to all UK students who want to #seeblueabroad. New journeys, friendships and experiences await!