STUDY ABROAD ALUMNI STORY
Why did you decide to study abroad?
I decided to study abroad because I had the desire within to do so. I woke up one morning excited for what my future looked like. I dreamed of studying abroad but never took the initiative until my junior year of college. That same morning, I went directly to my study abroad advisor, Dr. Abraham, and told her I wanted to study abroad but did not know where to start or where to look. Thanks to her, I chose a program that was the right fit for me, and made it happen. Dreams do come true, if only you take action.
Tell us about the program you went on.
The program I went on was with IES Abroad - Emerging Economies in Rio de Janeiro and Santiago. This was a one of a kind experience because we were considered the pioneers of this exciting new program. I had the opportunity to study abroad in multiple locations, specifically in South America (Brazil, Chile, and a week in Peru). To include, we were put into a homestay which was fascinating. We not only met locals, but we got to live with them. In Rio, I stayed with a lady whom I enjoyed getting to know, she took good care of us. My roommate and I both enjoyed her meals and connected well with her. In Santiago, I was placed in a family of three. The mother and her two boys were so kind to me, I thought of them as a second family. This extra bonding time at our new home made this experience memorable, in my opinion.
To top it off, what made this experience even more memorable was the excursions we did as part of the class field trips. We gained so much insight into the professional business world and social problems occurring in Brazil. We also saw how the U.S influences many of the businesses in Santiago, Chile presently. Overall, this program was the one for me because I wanted to fully immerse myself in living, learning, and gaining global perspectives from these emerging economies. I also liked the fact the courses related to my business administration major.
How did you pay for your study abroad experience?
Making the decision to study abroad was the easy step. The hardest part towards the trip was planning ahead and budgeting myself. Money should not be an obstacle towards a decision to study abroad or not. There are many resources and scholarships I looked at to fund towards my trip. I applied to the Gilman Scholarship and thankfully that came through and helped pay half the costs. I also received a scholarship from IES and my university to cover the remaining of my costs. I also applied for a student loan to cover my personal costs on the trip. (This would not be possible if it wasn't for the help of our financial advisor for study abroad.)
What is one thing you wish you would have known about studying abroad before you left?
I wish I would have known to pack light and have a budget spreadsheet. I overpacked and spent more than what I should have at first. I also recommend looking into the weather forecast and the season. I was in Brazil during summer and spent the beginning of winter in Chile.
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?
I personally did not feel discriminated because my roots come from South America. Brazil is the only country in South America that speaks Portuguese and I felt I could still fit in with the culture and energy of people. On the other hand, Peru and Chile, I could easily communicate well with locals.
How has studying abroad benefited you, personally and academically?
Studying abroad not only gave me a chance to grow as an individual but allowed me to make a significant impact on the people I met at the countries I visited. I lived amongst new types of people, surroundings, cultures and languages that helped me strengthen the ability to adapt to different environments as well as deciding to pursue a Master’s degree in Management with IE Business School.
What was the most memorable moment of studying abroad?
The most memorable moment of studying abroad was connecting with the local students and learning to engage/appreciate their culture. I was able to fully immerse myself because I stepped out of my comfort zone. I wanted to test myself to see if I could handle challenging situations in an unfamiliar environment. By embarking on this journey, I knew it would eventually open the door to the endless opportunities of working abroad.
In what way do you feel your experience abroad has prepared you for your future career? (Think both tangible things like language acquisition and intangible like learning to work with people who are very different from you)
I gained certain skills that are not learned in a classroom.
- I adapted to an unfamiliar environment and embraced cultural differences.
- Used communication and organization skills to navigate through new cities.
- Managed finances in varying currencies.
To include, I learned so much about myself that it helped me in every aspect of life, leading to a deeper understanding of what I want to pursue in my career. My focus after studying abroad shifted to working for the future. Applying for a masters and working abroad are my next goals.
Would you recommend the program you went on, if so why?
Yes, indeed. This program was remarkable. The field trips and courses we took were all related and beneficial. I don't think I could have chosen a better program than what I chose, because I not only gained wisdom into a new culture and insight into myself, but I have a newfound sense of wisdom that shifted my entire perspective of the world altogether. My experience in Brazil, Peru, and Chile has forever left an imprint on my heart and consciousness.
What advice do you have for students thinking about study abroad?
My advice to them is to have an open mind, don't be afraid to try new things.
Once you already decided to study abroad, stick to that decision and act upon it. Also, remember to always live in the moment. We are living in an increasingly connected and complex global economy and the only way to gain global awareness is by traveling. Studying abroad will help you in every aspect of life.
Author: Cindy Rosero