Student Shares Study Abroad Experience

Emily Pulley, a visual communications major from St. Louis, expanded her intellectual pursuits across cultural and physical borders when she traveled 9,800 miles to Jakarta, Indonesia, to study at Binus University.

During the five months she spent studying abroad, she made the most of her experience by pursuing everything that sparked her interest.

“When you study abroad, you get to meet new people, try new foods and learn so much it may seem like your brain can’t hold the amount of awesomeness that is occurring,” Pulley said.

Upon arriving in Indonesia’s capital, Pulley quickly learned that living in a city like Jakarta was a world completely different from life at Truman. One of the biggest challenges was navigating around the huge, bustling city that is home to more than 10 million people. Traffic woes were unavoidable and being late was to be expected. Pulley discovered the only option was to prepare for it as much as possible through a combination of strategic planning, patience and flexibility.

Adapting to her new school life also presented some unexpected benefits. Studying graphic design at Binus University, Pulley was in school Monday and Tuesday, and a majority of her homework revolved around midterms and finals. As a result, she had more free time than usual and ended up traveling and exploring her temporary home. Making the most of this opportunity, she racked up an impressive list of travel destinations, including Bandung, Yogyjakarta, Thousand Islands, Bogor, Bali, Sulawesi and Sumatra, along with some international flights to Singapore, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.

“I have been sprayed by waterfalls, stood high above volcanoes, visited tea farms and factories, gone snorkeling, held a baby sea turtle, had a monkey climb on me, attended a ceremonial funeral and so much more,” Pulley said. “I have made friends, tried more foods than I can remember and truly had a blast.”

A visit to Tana Toraja in Sulawesi, Indonesia, a highland region with stunning scenery, ranks among one of Pulley’s most memorable experiences. After she and a friend were driven part of the way up a mountain by a guide, they hiked the rest of the way up terraced rice fields. When they stopped to rest atop a large rock that sat in the field, Pulley beheld the most beautiful and serene sight she had ever encountered.

“Below, I could see the terraced rice fields, and then further down was the town of Rantepao, and I watched as the clouds drifted lazily over the town. In the background, the silhouettes of mountains perfected the view,” she said.

Living and studying in Indonesia taught Pulley a lot about herself and the world. While traveling alone seemed scary at first, she discovered it allowed her to travel at her own pace and explore things in a way that only she could do. She discovered a positive attitude gets you farther than a negative one. Most importantly, she learned about many cultures that were different from her own and gained more respect and understanding concerning them.

In addition to providing a life-changing experience, opportunities like study abroad are helping students prepare for careers in a global economy. After she graduates from Truman, Pulley plans to connect her education with her passions and pursue work as a graphic designer for international companies while also doing some freelance toy designing on the side.

“I think studying abroad will show that I’m able to manage across cultures, can adapt to change, and have a broader perspective that allows me to be a more well-rounded individual,” she said.

Students interested in studying abroad can visit for more information, and should consider attending the next Study Abroad Fair, scheduled for 1-5 p.m. Oct. 6 in the Student Union Building.

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