STUDY ABROAD ALUMNI STORY
Our Diversity Abroad alumni have been able to prepare, engage, and reflect on their international experiences. Upon their return we asked them questions for them to share how they did all of the above. Through these five questions we explore why Courtney chose to study abroad, how she got there, what it was like, and how she knew she was, “where I was supposed to be.”
Why did you decide to study abroad?
As much as I love my home university I felt as though I needed a change of pace. As an Acting major, I thought that studying abroad might not be possible for me as there are so many classes in my degree plan that might not be available at other universities in the US, much less globally. But after sitting down with the raddest global engagement advisor on the planet, I realized that this was something totally within my reach! And the fact that 2 other classmates in my program were interested as well only made the decision easier to make. Plus, the opportunity to live out of the country for 4 months was just too good to pass up!
How did you pay for your study abroad experience?
I chose to do a reciprocal exchange, which basically means that I do my school payment as I would if I were going to be there for that semester and they would be the middleman and pay what the program needed. And the program I chose was actually less expensive than my home university so ‘yay’ for an affordable semester of school! When it came to the traveling I did around Europe, that was money that I had saved up from working my 2 work study jobs from the semester before.
What is one thing you wish you would have known about studying abroad before you left?
THE WORLD IS A NICE PLACE! We live in a time where we are afraid of people who are not like us. Free yourself up a little every day to new experiences, whether it's trying that odd food you SWORE you'd never eat in your life or hopping a train to a different country. You'd be surprised what you can do when you allow yourself to actually do it.
Did you experience any discrimination abroad because of your race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or a physical disability? If so, what did you learn from the experience?
As a woman of color traveling, especially in the European countries, I didn't experience as much discrimination as I did curiosity. I stayed in the northern part of England, and even from walking around campus I could tell that there weren't many black people in general. My home university isn't exactly flooded with minorities either, but it was intriguing how my new classmates wanted to engage in the conversation of what it was like to be African American. It taught me that there are racial differences in every country even between one race.
How has studying abroad benefited you, personally and academically?
I cannot say enough about how beneficial studying abroad was for me. It gave me the change that I needed as a second-semester junior. It gave me a confidence that only traveling alone in a foreign place can give you. It allowed me to open myself to new experiences and the flow of life. There are so many things we cannot control in life, and studying abroad helped hone my problem solving skills. I feel I have a better idea of how to lean on myself as well as trust the people around me enough to ask for help when I need it (which has always been difficult for me). Plus I really got to implement all of the techniques I learned at my home university in my acting classes. It was truly reassuring that I was not static in my training, that I was actually able to automatically jump in and do what I had been trained to do when I entered a new space that called for me to work. That was one of my favorite realizations of my study abroad experience. I was where I was supposed to be.
Want to continue to engage after you’ve returned from your study abroad experience? Attend the Global Student Leadership Conference, Volunteer at the Diversity Abroad Conference, or share your story with us! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Author: Courtney Beyer