STUDY ABROAD ALUMNI STORY
Why did you decide to study abroad?
This was the third time that I went on a study abroad program. I had already studied in Paris and chose to return because I wanted to continue more intensive study of the language to get a higher level proficiency certification. It also worked out very nicely that I was able to do most of my research for my undergraduate thesis while abroad as my topic of choice was about the luxury fashion industry, a perfect topic to study in Paris.
How did you pay for your study abroad experience?
I paid for the experience with a variety of means ranging from scholarships, such as from Diversity Abroad, AIFS, and my home institution; loans were able to help offset a lot of costs, and a benefit of doing a quarter-program was that I was able to spend the first part of my semester and the summer before working in two internships and completing freelance projects that helped me earn more money.
What is one thing you wish you would have known about studying abroad before you left?
I had already studied abroad twice, but even then I think I always learn something new about myself. I think that something I always need to remind myself specifically while attending French school is to not be so shocked by the grading difference. This caused me a bit of stress a few times in making sure my credits would transfer back correctly and that I would pass. Fortunately, it all worked out well.
For students going abroad, be prepared ahead of time with everything from scholarships to being proactive in communication with your program and your future institution. While youʼre abroad, challenge yourself to not just stay friends with people from your program - make
friends with locals and other international students. In the end, youʼll make connections that will last a long time and youʼll always be able to return and have a friend. Donʼt get comfortable, challenge yourself everyday and see as much as you can!
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 Mexican and I personally didn’t. I think that Parisians are quite lovely people, and with my level of French proficiency I never had the classic issue of people reverting to English or discriminating against me, necessarily. The oddest experience was my previous study abroad in Japan where being a very tall westerner obviously gets you a few looks, but France was relatively calm.
How has studying abroad benefited you, personally and academically?
I think studying abroad has benefited me in so many ways. Thereʼs nothing quite like living in the most exciting cities in the world, studying new languages, becoming a global citizen. You become much more marketable as a professional and a student, but are also able to learn and develop so much as an individual!
I want to work in the luxury lifestyle industry, specifically branding, so time abroad in Paris was an incredible experience. Whether it is language proficiency, a better understanding of design in large cities, or also just an increased sense of maturity and independence, I think that my time abroad has been perhaps one of the most useful things Iʼve ever done.
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: Carlos Velasco