From Morgantown to Bratislava, one pioneering Mountaineer is making memories as the first West Virginia University student to study abroad in Slovakia.
Trinity Shaver is a rising senior majoring in psychology and minoring in sociology, statistics and women’s and gender studies. She spent the spring 2019 semester studying abroad at Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia.
“I chose to study in Slovakia because I wanted to study in a nontraditional country that is also located in central Europe,” Shaver said. “That way, I could easily travel to other European countries during my stay.”
Shaver is completing credits at Comenius University for her minors, taking classes on topics like multiculturalism and international politics. The experience of learning in a new place has been challenging at times but extremely rewarding.
“An interesting aspect of the college experience abroad is being an international student. Most of the courses at Comenius are taught in Slovak, so you feel a little out of place,” Shaver said. “It was a bit awkward at first, but most of the professors were very understanding and were fine with teaching the course in English. Many younger Slovak students are taught English as children, so they were eager to test their language skills in the classroom.”
Shaver’s favorite aspect of studying abroad is learning about different cultures and meeting new people. She has spent her free time traveling, which is easy for students in the European Union. She’s grateful to have had the opportunity to visit places she never expected, but values the relationships she’s cultivated most of all.
“I have made so many friends here from countries like Latvia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary and Japan, to name a few. Through our similar experiences of living abroad, we all became very close and traveled the world together,” she said. “I will miss them all dearly once I return to the U.S. They made my study abroad experience unforgettable.”
Shaver has spent her entire career at WVU working as an undergraduate research assistant in psychology professors Cole Vonder Haar and Kris Martens’ Injury and Recovery Laboratory studying potential pharmacological treatments for cognitive dysfunction associated with traumatic brain injury. She also worked as a teaching assistant in two psychology classes.
After completing her undergraduate degree, Shaver plans to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy in behavioral neuroscience and find new research opportunities.
“I plan to continue conducting animal research investigating topics such as drug addiction and brain injury,” she said. “After obtaining my Ph.D., I would like to pursue a career in academia as a researcher and professor. I also hope to one day earn a Fulbright grant to conduct research and teach abroad.”