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Study abroad offers new self-awareness

Alexandra Rothenburger studied at the American University in Cairo last semester and returned with amazing stories of self-discovery and adventure.

The trip had its high points (like meeting the queen of Swaziland and going inside several pyramids) and some low points (imagine having an appendectomy in a foreign country), but Rothenburger realized her most important goal: Developing a better understanding of Arab society and the Arabic language.

“The great thing about learning about other cultures is you learn about yourself,” said Rothenburger, 20, of Amityville. “It changes how you view yourself, which changes how you see other people.”

Her trip to Egypt wasn’t Rothenburger’s first experience overseas. She also lived in India for a year after high school through the Rotary exchange program. “Cross-cultural understanding is a great thing,” she said. “It’s important to me.”

Rothenburger, a junior, is majoring in political science and fulfilling pre-health requirements with an eye toward attending medical school one day. She’s also interested in getting an MBA.

Rothenburger, who grew up in a conservative Christian family, said she’s fascinated by the way religion is used for political ends. She also believes she’ll be a better doctor – or just a more well-rounded person – if she understands and respects other cultures and learns how to communicate with people who are different from her.

Rothenburger, a Dean’s List student, has played intramural soccer and was on the executive board of the Hindu Student Council last year. She also was a resident assistant in Hinman College, where she got to know Faculty Master Al Vos.

“Alex has ways of looking for the deeper meaning of an experience,” he said. “She wants, more than most students, to get a feeling of what a place is like. There’s more depth to the quest she’s on.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08