The Making of a Global Traveler

Sophie Elzie '20

Classical Languages

While Sophia Elzie didn’t start her college search process with women’s colleges in mind, after looking into liberal arts colleges in the vicinity of her hometown and learning about Agnes Scott College, it was clear that it was the place that she needed to be. With opportunities to study her academic passions, travel abroad, and work collaboratively with supportive professors, Agnes Scott felt like the perfect choice. And Agnes Scott came to be a home base of sorts for Sophia during her college experience. A place stateside that represented a welcoming and inclusive environment but also a community that pushed her to take new chances that sent her across the globe. Her time at Agnes Scott was shaped by travel, exploring new places each year. Now, her life after Agnes Scott is no different as she navigates her first post-graduate experience.

When she arrived at Agnes Scott, Sophia stepped into a supportive environment where she built the confidence to pursue exciting possibilities. The first of these experiences, her first-year Journey brought her to Chile. Global Journeys are an 8-day long faculty-led immersion trip that happens in a student's second semester at Agnes. During her trip, Sophia was able to dive deep into the ideas of art and literature in the context of a dictatorship, expanding on the ideas the class had covered up until that point in the Spring. This exploration highlighted for her the importance of understanding the political ties of artistic expression and social justice.

As a first-year student, she was still deciding on her major back at Agnes Scott. Interested in Classics, she was struggling to find modern relevancy in the study of Classical works. Her experience in Chile highlighted that old, even ancient, literature and culture can have a connection to current-day political activism. The trip and the connections she made helped solidify her passions for Classics, finding that her academic tie to modern-day comes from current interpretations of older texts, an area of study called Reception Studies. This pivotal understanding is what drove Sophia to continue to pursue Classics throughout her time at Agnes Scott and beyond.

After this trip, motivated to continue her global learning, Sophia took full advantage of the guidance of her Agnes Scott professors and decided to pursue a summer internship in Greece. Recognizing how supportive and intentional her Agnes Scott professors were throughout this process, Sophia praises the support that she received, crediting it as the reason she was able to spend time in Greece.

“I think you have to be really, really aware and self-motivated to do that [pursue a summer internship abroad] in an environment where your professors aren’t really familiar with you and looking out for you in the same way [as they do at Agnes]. Those are the kinds of opportunities that got me to where I am now.”

Sophia Elzie ’20 in Greece

It was in Greece that she was able to expand her international encounters and create an understanding of what it means to be not just a tourist but a traveler. Recognizing that although she was traveling to study history and classics, she had to understand the current contexts that she was stepping into. Ultimately, Sophia cultivated the skill of traveling in a way that “engages responsibly with the culture” around her.

Returning to Agnes Scott after her summer away, Sophia declared her Classics major. She spent time in Decatur on campus, further connecting with those in the Agnes Scott community who shared her passions. Sophia decided that she was ready to experience international travel again, this time for the longest she had been away. Study abroad is common at Agnes Scott, with about half of students deciding to pursue a semester or year-long experience abroad after their first-year Journey.

Sophia describes her time abroad as the perfect next step in her global education as well as the opportune time to dive head first into language learning. Abroad in Milan, Italy, she started with introductory Italian classes and with the immersion, worked her way up to being able to have conversations in the grocery store in Italian. Sophia also took classes that were both interesting to her such as Italian cooking and Mafia in literature and film with confidence in her ability to translate the skills she had learned in the Agnes Scott classrooms abroad. Her time abroad was not without its challenges, from securing a Visa to being alone in a foreign country. Sophia reflects that those challenges made the experience that much more worthwhile and prepared her for what was ahead.

Returning to her home base of Agnes Scott for a final time and settling back into her senior year with the community she loved — Sophia realized that she wanted to pursue a Master’s in Classics. When applying to schools, she knew that her time at Agnes Scott had qualified her to go wherever fit her pursuits best. She settled on the University of Oxford in England and their one year master’s program in Greek and/or Latin Language and Literature, an adventure that would again take her outside the United States. Sophia thinks of this experience as “the next stepping stone,” knowing that each Agnes Scott journey had not only led her here but prepared her to make the move to England. Sophia is in the U.K. now, working on her dissertation and studying Classics. She also again realizes that Agnes Scott and the support it provided are a foundation for her to thrive in any setting, sharing that she now is often studying and working independently in her program, utilizing time management, a skill she perfected at Agnes. Sophia Elzie and her remarkable time at Agnes Scott highlight just how important the connections made through SUMMIT and global learning truly are.

“Being at Agnes prepared me really well to come into this level of freedom, actually being able to prioritize and set tasks for myself….If I didn't have those habits now I would have no idea what I would be doing with my time. I am so self-driven - Agnes really prepared me well for that.”

About the Writer: Faith Rashidi-Yazd is the Admission Experience Fellow at Agnes Scott College and has been a Scottie since 2016 when she entered as a student. She enjoys spending time with her family, cooking vegan meals, and watching Hallmark holiday movies year-round!

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