Climb a Mountain, See the World!

3 “Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.”
Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

I thought that I had an exciting life until I flew across the country and immersed myself in Alaska’s rich wildlife. This past fall semester I studied in Juneau, Alaska through Towson University’s National Student Exchange program. I had the most incredible, breathtaking experiences of my entire life. I feel as if I saw the world, but in reality I was in Southeast Alaska the duration of my stay. Once I was able to lose my inclination to a comfortable life style, I was then able to make my adventure possible.

We climbed a new mountain every weekend. Juneau is covered in huge mountains that surround every road, walkway, lake, ocean clearing, and town. An ice field runs through Juneau and can be seen from the town. One of the spots where the ice field is visible is the Mendenhall Glacier. The glacier is a five-minute drive from The University of Alaska Southeast, the school I studied at, so my friends and I would visit often. There are several hiking trails, a place to eat lunch, and facts about its history. Some of my favorite memories took place at the glacier, from watching the northern lights dancing together in their green and red strands, to climbing underneath of it into an ice cave.
One of my favorite mountains is called Thunder Mountain. The sun was out the day we climbed, which is not taken for granted in Juneau’s temperate rainforest climate. After several hours of uphill climbing, we reached the clouds. We kept climbing until, suddenly, we were above the clouds. Once we reached the top, I felt as if I was someone who was seeing for the first time. Everything was beautiful.

I was away for fall semester, making it my first year away from home for Thanksgiving. It ended up being one of the most memorable Thanksgiving weekends. Juneau does not have any roads that lead out of it, so the only way out is by a water ferry or by plane. Many people who live in Juneau travel by ferry often, and they refer to it as a “water taxi”. My exchange friends and I took a “water taxi” to Haines, a different part of Southeast Alaska.

In Haines, we visited a wildlife sanctuary. This is a place where specialists hold onto and take care of abused, injured and abandoned wildlife. At the sanctuary, we saw a grizzly bear, howled with a wolf, saw reindeer, a lynx, foxes, and kissed a moose! I was face-to-face, or lip-to-lip in the moose’s case, with animals that people go their entire lives without seeing. Over our Haines trip, my close friends in Alaska became my family.

I have always wanted to go to Alaska and I never knew why. When I stepped out of the plane and was welcomed by beautiful mountains, it became obvious to me why Alaska has consumed all of my dreams. If you have a dream, do not let it slip between your fingers. Go to new, beautiful places, and meet new, beautiful people. I listened to Jon Krauker’s advice, and I lost my inclination to a life of security, conformity, and conservation. I urge you to do the same by making your wildest dreams your reality. 4

Experience life from a different point of view! The National Student Exchange (NSE) program provides opportunities for undergraduates to study at another NSE university in the United States, Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and several universities in Canada while paying tuition and fees to Towson. To be eligibility to apply, students must have a full-time academic load with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5.

Why students participate in NSE?…to broaden their perspectives, explore new culture, explore new areas of study, learn from different professors, access new courses, break out of their comfort zones, experience personal growth, meet new people, make new friends, live in a different area, investigate graduate schools, seek future employment, and, of course, become more independent! Sammi David, recent NSE alum, shares her experience.

What is the cost to participate in NSE? Can students apply for financial aid?
– Students exchange on the Plan B payment option, which means they pay their normal tuition/fees to Towson. Room and meals are always paid to the host campus. Yes. Towson students apply for financial aid at Towson.

Are there time limits for exchange? Is it possible to extend an exchange?
– Students can exchange for a semester or two but no more than a year. An exchange of one term may be extended to total no more than a year as long as the Towson and host coordinators agree to it in writing.

How can the student make sure the coursework from the host campus counts at Towson?
– Students will work with the NSE coordinator and department advisor to complete the NSE Petition to Transfer Courses form prior to leaving Towson. The student is responsible for having an official transcript sent to Towson. Courses completed at the host campus calculate into the cumulative GPA.

Visit the national website at Interested students may contact Kerica Henlon, Towson NSE Coordinator, at, 410-704-3405, and/or Lecture Hall building, room 5 for details.

Kerica Henlon
National Student Exchange Coordinator
Academic Advising Center

Sammi David
Towson University Student
National Student Exchange Participant


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