Carissa Schutz, an English major from the Class of 2010, recently spent a year in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, teaching English and exploring another culture. Back in the states, she attended Boston University's graduate program in Education, with a concentration in teaching English as a second language.
Editor's Note: Following this interview, Carissa completed her master's program and returned to Mongolia to teach English for an undetermined amount of time.Q: What inspired you to travel to Mongolia for a year?
A: Ever since my senior year, I wanted to live abroad after college, but I didn't know exactly how that would happen. In October of 2012, I started applying to teach English in China, but then I heard about the opportunities in Mongolia and it just seemed like the best fit. Once I was there, I knew the "Land of the Blue Sky" was exactly where I needed to be.
Q: What surprised you most about your experience?
A: Everything about living in a different culture is surprising! I didn't expect to meet such faithful brothers and sisters. They really inspired me. I also loved getting to know my students. We laughed a lot, even with the language barriers. Mongolians and New Englanders have the same sense of humor!
Q: How did your time in Mongolia shape your perspectives or your faith?
A: Living in Mongolia was very humbling. I had to rely on other people for everything, and that was difficult when I like being independent. My students wouldn't let me cross the street on my own, for fear I'd get hit by a car! Mongolians are very communal and hospitable, and at first it was a little uncomfortable, but now it is a way of living I aspire to. I also experienced religion in a completely different context, and my perspective on worship and prayer has altered dramatically.
Q: You're in graduate school at Boston University, pursuing a master's degree in teaching English as a second language. Where would you like to teach in the future?
A: If I ever have the chance to go back to Mongolia, I won't even think twice! But really this past year taught me that His ways are higher than my ways, and so I'm relying on His direction. Right now, I'm completing my practicum at a high school in Boston. I love teaching in general, but I really hope I can teach abroad again!
Q: What would you say to anyone considering traveling abroad?
A: Living in another culture is life changing. I now have friends from all over the world, and I can't help but see things in a different light. So if you have the chance - go! I had good days and bad days, but ultimately I'm a better person for going. I've heard a lot of excuses from people of all ages about why they could never do it, but if you are called to go, there is really no such thing as a good excuse!
To read more about Carissa Schutz's time abroad and some of the stories she shared, visit her blog at