Taking a Leap Toward New Experiences with Jada Jefferson
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 Jada chose to study abroad, how they got there, what it was like, and the impact of their global experience.
Why did you decide to study abroad?
I decided to go abroad because I was so aware of my surroundings and I started to feel complacent in my life. I didn't know a lot of people who had traveled the world or seen the things I had seen on tv so I wanted to find a way to experience them myself.
How did you pay for your study abroad experience?
I spent the better half of my my fall semester of 2017 applying for any scholarship I could find! I went to scholarship workshops provided by my university and set up personal meetings with our office of scholarship development to discuss how I could receive funding. I received the Diversity Abroad Scholarship, The Gilman Scholarship and numerous others, including some from my university. It was pretty strenuous and took a lot of hard work, but I did it all because I knew I had a goal!
What is one thing you wish you would have known about studying abroad before you left?
I wish I had known how to better budget and sustain my money throughout the semester. I wish I had known how expensive it would be to live abroad for such an extended period of time without my family. My advice is to do it! Trust your gut and know that people just like you have gone abroad and it has changed their lives. Don't be afraid, and if you are, then apply for the study abroad program you want in fear!
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 am an African-American, Christian woman from a low socioeconomic standing. From experiences, racial and sexual discrimination was everywhere that I went. Of course some places were better than others, but I was always aware of the ways in which I should act so that I wouldn't bring unnecessary attention to myself. In certain countries, racism was a little more clear than others, but overall it didn't impact my experience too greatly.
How has studying abroad benefited you, personally and academically?
To be honest, after studying abroad I feel like I am a completely new person. I feel so ready to take my life by the reigns and move towards the most success possible. I work harder than I ever have and think of things differently. As someone who suffers from anxiety, I learned to relax and take in my surroundings one day at a time. I feel more competitive career-wise because I've studied internationally and have learned how to interact with people effectively no matter where they're from. I'm sensitive to anyone and everyone's experiences, making me someone who can mediate and be a great leader.
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: Jada Jefferson