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Kaelie Eberhart. Photo by Diana Hagues.

Beacons Abroad

A Life Changing Journey

Fall 2023

Kaelie Eberhart ’23 thought she had a decent idea of what her future would look like. She wanted to go to school for a degree in music education, find a way to study abroad, then come back to the U.S. and get a job. Life had other plans in store for her, however, starting with where she would go to school. According to Kaelie, Valpo wasn’t where she saw herself at first, but a visit at her mother’s insistence was enough to turn her around.

“I really like the close-knit community around the school,” she says. “I went to a small high school, so it was another environment where I knew everyone was looking out for each other. I could tell the professors cared.”

Kaelie’s original course of study also saw a radical change. Soon, she changed her major to history, thanks to a love for the subject instilled in her by a high school teacher, but continued to pursue her love of music with minors in music and music history and culture.

“I added music history later because music history is my real passion and I didn’t need many additional credits to complete it,” Kaelie says.

One part of her original plan that she continued to pursue was her desire to study abroad. Kaelie paid close attention to the opportunities offered at Valpo in order to find the perfect program to fit her need.

Valparaiso University prides itself on being able to offer a wide variety of opportunities that fit a student’s individual interests, and Kaelie quickly found the perfect trip for her in a Study Abroad program in the English city of Cambridge. For Kaelie, the chance to study in the United Kingdom was the fulfillment of another lifelong dream.

“I’ve always been into English bands. As a teenager, I was into 60’s bands like The Who, The Beatles and Pink Floyd, and I still love English music to this day,” Kaelie says. “One of my original dreams was to go to University there.”

In England, Kaelie took classes including Christianity in the Arts, British Science Fiction, and British Life and Culture. During that experience, Kaelie realized that not only was she enjoying her time, but that she may have found somewhere she really belonged.

“A lot of people feel homesickness or culture shock, but I never experienced them,” Kaelie says. “I never thought I wanted to go home, or that it was too difficult for me. I got there and immediately felt at-home, and something clicked in my mind. I never wanted to leave.”

Although Kaelie did come home to the United States for the summer of 2023, she quickly found a way back to England, and is now pursuing her master’s degree in history at Anglia Ruskin University with a focus on 20th century Britain and America.

“Being back in Cambridge again has rejuvenated my happiness and motivation,” Kaelie says. “It has been extremely pleasant seeing people again who made my study abroad experience so fulfilling and amazing, particularly the staff at Westfield House, my professors at Anglia Ruskin University, and my British friends who were in my courses at ARU the last time I studied there.”

She also says that the impact her experience, through Valparaiso University, had on her life was immeasurable.

“It changed my life, literally the course of my life,” Kaelie says. “You never know what’s going to happen, you could find out you really love the country you’re in, and that you have to go back.”

More from the Fall 2023 Issue