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 six questions we explore why Shanell chose to study abroad, how they got there, what it was like, and the impact of their global experience.
Why did you decide to do an international internship?
Studying Abroad was a rather spontaneous decision. I thought of going abroad during my first and second years of college preferably some in South America for a short-term program with friends, but we never went through with it. I was scrolling through Instagram one day and saw someone abroad in Spain and thought to be myself how amazing that experience must be. I decided to take the chance, alone and Google’d the best place in the world to intern abroad and London was the answer. The biggest influence for me was the internet. After my parents consented, I spent my days reading blogs, looking at pictures, and prepping for departure. I found myself talking about my trip everyday, at least once a day with someone.
How did you pay for your intern abroad experience?
The partnership between AIFS and my home university actually made my trip abroad more affordable than staying on campus. I attend a private university, which tends to be more expensive than a public institution, so we paid my home university's tuition and the British school's room and board. The Diversity Abroad Overseas Ambassador Scholarship helped with pocket money and my federal loans aided with VISA payment, flights and additional fees.
What is one thing you wish you would have known about interning abroad before you left?
Save. Save. Save. SAVE - studying abroad is expensive. The changes in currency really adds up over time. Before I went abroad, I wish I knew how much to bring and how to make the most of the money I came with. Once you're there, everything is new to you and you want to try everything. It’s a once in a lifetime experience that you want to take advantage of. Of course, no one has unlimited money, but researching at least 5 to 10 things or activities that you are sure you want to complete can make budgeting and planning much easier and more effective. And if you plan on traveling, book flights and hotels as early as possible.
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 identify as a cis-gendered, straight, Black women. While abroad, first-hand I didn't experience any cultural discrimination. However, I did notice the apparent separation of classes and how people assessed a person's social class based on what zone they lived in. Zone 1, where I stayed, was considered “the” Zone to live in. Zone 1 provides the easiest access to multiple tube lines, most attractions and city-style living. Zone 1 is also home to Buckingham Palace, Winter Wonderland, the several Tate museums, Harrod's, Winter Wonderland and so much more.
How has interning abroad benefited you, personally and academically?
This experience has really matured me. I can't wait to travel and see the world. Living in London allowed me to meet and interact with all kinds of people. Due to London's geographic location, I was allotted the opportunity to travel and meet other people from several different parts of the world. The different conversations and viewpoints of the world, America and culture have had an ever-lasting effect on me. I'm much more concerned and aware of world issues, changes and developments. I want tp learn another language so I can connect with people and different cultures on a much deeper level. I find myself researching and applying to jobs that are either international or allow a great deal of time to travel.
Academically, knowing that very few assignments make up your entire grade for semester is a bit nerve-racking, but it helped me understand and digest the information instead of attempting to cram it in fourteen weeks at my home university.
Any additional comments or thoughts that you have about your intern abroad experience
TRAVEL. Make the most of your experience and your location. Try something new, something different and something crazy.
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.
Authored by: Shanell Farmer