Becca Draus is a long way from home this year. But it is where she wants to be.
The St. Donatus native and 2011 graduate of Marquette High School in Bellevue and 2015 graduate of Loras College in Dubuque, is now in Glasgow, Scotland at the University of Strathclyde working on Master of Science information and library studies.
Her opportunity to study abroad came in part from the Bellevue Rotary Club, who hosted Draus’s application for the Rotary Global Grant Scholarship, which she was awarded this summer.
“I am very grateful for this opportunity to study abroad while getting my masters and participating with the local Rotary Clubs (mostly through Zoom currently due to Covid-19),” said Draus. “Scotland is beautiful, and in some ways just like home right now with the leaves changing colors. The weather here is much more temperamental - one minute it will be sunny and nice and in the next it will be pouring, only to change a short time later to sunny again. It is definitely different living in a big city compared to living in Bellevue, but in Glasgow it can be easy to forget you are living in a big city since there are no skyscrapers.”
Draus said she is hoping to explore more of Scotland soon, but that will depend on what restrictions are in place for Covid-19.
Draus grew up in St. Donatus, with her parents, Tom and Pat Draus, and four siblings. She attended Marquette Catholic Schools from Kindergarten through 12th grade. After graduating, she went to Loras College and majored in Elementary Education with endorsements in Reading and Instructional Strategies, and a minor in Greek and Roman Studies.
She then went on to teach 3rd grade at Archbishop Hennessy Catholic School in Petersburg, Iowa for a year before returning to Bellevue to teach 2nd grade at Marquette Catholic Schools, where she taught for three years.
Draus arrived in Glasgow, Scotland in September, and as is the current norm when traveling, she had to quarantine for two weeks.
“Students who have to quarantine are asked to stay in their rooms, except to use the kitchen or collect deliveries. The University provided two boxes of food, and I am so very grateful for my host Rotary Club (Rotary of Glasgow Charing Cross) for gathering some kitchen supplies for me,” said Draus. “The Charing Cross Rotary Club also took the time to call and email me throughout my quarantine time to make sure that I was doing okay and to ask if I needed anything. I have also been invited to visit with various Rotary Clubs through Zoom, which has been a wonderful way to meet people in Glasgow and learn about their charity activities (and participated in a charity Zoom bingo event) during this time of COVID.”
During her second week of quarantining just a few weeks ago, she started her classes online. “They are set up for us to watch recorded lectures and do some reading, and then have Zoom classes once a week for discussion and questions,” explained Draus. “Originally, classes were supposed to start online and then transition to blended learning after a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, they have seen an increase in COVID cases in the United Kingdom and they have put some more restrictions in place to help slow the spread, which means we probably will continue with online classes through the rest of this year.”
Draus said the Covid-19 restrictions also make it a bit difficult to meet new students. The current rules state that only six people from two households can gather at a time, but if case numbers go down the rule will most likely change.
Not long ago, I was finally done with quarantine and was able to go out for a walk around Glasgow with four of my flatmates (the fifth one hadn’t moved in yet). We had a wonderful time walking around the city centre, and getting to know each other and sharing about the countries we come from - China, South Korea, Italy, Greece, Hong Kong, and, of course, the USA,” said Draus. “We have spent some time together when eating, and some evenings hanging out enjoying each other's company.”
Draus is enjoying the experience, with a mix of classwork, exploring part of the city and hanging out with her flatmates.
“I am excited for this year, and, while it may be different from my original expectations, I can’t wait to meet more people and do some small trips around Scotland,” concluded Draus. “I am so grateful for this opportunity and all those who have helped make it possible.”