Leaving on a Jet Airplane
Born and raised in Lebanon, Pa., Jessica Oliveri ’15 was a high-achieving student in Lebanon Valley College’s Psychology Department but had never been on a plane entering her senior year. After three years at The Valley, she had done almost everything else: co-authored research with Dr. Lou Manza, chair and professor of psychology, served as a Peer Mentor for incoming students, and was inducted into Psi Chi, the department’s honor society.
When the opportunity to study in Perugia, Italy, arose during the fall semester of her senior year, Oliveri nearly did not take it. “It was my first time flying on a plane, first time traveling to a new country, first time being away from home for an extended time… the list goes on and on,” said Oliveri. “I came up with excuse after excuse as to why I shouldn’t go, but I promise that if it’s something that you want to do but don’t pursue, you will regret it. I will never have to ask myself ‘what if.”’
Oliveri cites her semester abroad as the experience that changed the course of her career path and sparked the idea of teaching abroad. So from Lebanon to South Korea she went and now teaches English as a Second Language to elementary school children. She says her degree in psychology has given her the chance to bridge many of her interests and passions in order to live and work abroad.
“My Korean co-teacher tells me all the time that she is jealous of my degree because of the perspective it gives me,” notes Oliveri. “It enables me to be very observant of certain classroom dynamics and methodically come up with ways to change bad behavior and reward good behavior. My upper-level psychology courses—Psychology Statistics, Social Psychology, and History & Theory of Psychology—were group-based research courses that also helped prepare me for the teaching environment.”
Oliveri plans to live abroad for the next several years and pursue her teaching career in as many countries as possible. She says that for anyone who wishes to study abroad or to branch away from their comfort zone, “The journey won’t be easy, but it is absolutely worthwhile.”