Paisley was a 2017-2018 FEA scholar from the University of Puget Sound studying Communications, Japanese Language and Culture, and Asian Studies. As a fifth-year senior, she embarked on the Pacific Rim/Asia Study Abroad Program. She traveled throughout Asia, stopping in Russia, Mongolia, Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and India. Upon returning to the states, Paisley made the cross-country move to accept a job at Atlas Obscura, a media and travel company as a trip coordinator. Having moved and acclimated to so many new cultures throughout her time abroad, she couldn’t wait to take on the big city. Along with the generous financial help from FEA, Paisley attributes tremendous self-growth through the many blog posts she wrote. The time she set aside to reflect on each experience helped connect her to more than just the cultures, but to what she was feeling at the time, learning in the moment, and encouraged her to find comfort in feeling lost in new countries and uncomfortable experiences. Many FEA scholars seem to say they felt comfort in the discomfort, and Paisley can’t agree more. And, of course, she continues to reflect on each class she took and how her courses in Asia relate to her everyday life today.
Moving forward, Paisley hopes to make traveling more accessible to underrepresented communities. She wants everyone to have the same unforgettable experiences, like sleeping under a million stars in Mongolia to having a meal with an inspiring refugee in Malaysia. She learned that you can only learn so much by sitting in a classroom or reading an article, but more importantly, your ideas or preconceived notions will be challenged when in a new country engaging with the culture, history, food, and locals. That said, she recognizes that higher education is such a privilege and that studying abroad is even less accessible than attending college—she wants to change that, just like FEA is.