Why did you decide to study abroad?
I decided to go abroad after speaking with a friend that did Semester at Sea. It was then that I realized it was an experience of a lifetime, and I had to take advantage of the opportunity to go around the world on a ship. The biggest influence on my decision to study abroad was the financial aid I was able to receive. Without the support of various scholarships, I wouldn't have been able to attend the program.
How did you pay for your study abroad experience?
Other than my Diversity Abroad scholarship, I also received aid from my home university, Ohio State. The aid included federal grants and student loans that luckily were able to transfer over. I also lived in an economy room which significantly reduced the cost of room & board.
What is one thing you wish you would have known about studying abroad before you left?
There is nothing in particular I wish I would have known before going abroad. Time flies, and it is important to cherish and truly enjoy living in the moment because it will be over before you know it. My biggest piece of advice is to use going abroad as an opportunity to see what really matters in life, and to take a break from social media.
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 a Hispanic female, and I did not experience any cultural insensitivity. My peers on Semester at Sea were all very welcoming, kind, and open minded. This is not surprising to me, because people that have the desire to study abroad typically have an open mindset, and are eager to learn from and explore different cultures.
How has studying abroad benefited you, personally and academically?
Studying abroad on Semester at Sea has prepared me to succeed personally, professionally, and academically. It has given me a world perspective I never had before and drastically impacted how I view myself and the situations presented before me. Throughout the voyage as I visited developing countries, I realized that there are times people worry about buying luxury items, when there are individuals struggling to acquire basic life needs. I have come across some of the happiest and heart-warming people I have ever encountered. Individuals with limited sources and funds have high spirits and enjoy life despite their limitations, acting as a reminder that happiness is not based on what you own or what you are capable of purchasing. I have learned to have a more positive outlook, and to always be appreciative and grateful for what I have. Having a more positive attitude and seeing the glass as half full will allow me to live a happier and more successful life. I have developed not only personally but also professionally and academically. Over the past four months I have further developed my ability to adapt to new environments. This is a critical skill that is transferable to both the workplace and the classroom. My daily life completely changed when I embarked on the MV World Odyssey. I went from cooking my own meals, having a set group of friends, and being close to my family, to living on a ship in the middle of the ocean with 500+ strangers. I have travelled to 11 different countries with varying customs, cultures, and languages. Every country has something amazing and unique to offer, and I have grown accustom to embracing change rather than resisting it. This was a necessity in order for me to fully enjoy and experience Semester at Sea, and is a skill that will help me in my future endeavors. As a business and finance major I have group projects in a majority of my classes at Ohio State, and these groups are randomly assigned by my professor. This is meant to stimulate a real life workplace because you can’t choose who you work with. After Semester at Sea I am able to better adapt to new situations and will work more efficiently with new projects and new groups. Lastly, I have developed an open mind and the desire to explore the world and all of its beautiful cities. I have learned to welcome and accept different people and cultures, thus sparking my curiosity and eagerness to travel. Studying abroad has prepared me to succeed in various aspects of life including personally, professionally, and academically.
Any additional comments or thoughts that you have about your study abroad experience
Thank you Diversity Abroad for selecting me as a recipient of the scholarship, it made a world of difference. I am eternally grateful for being able to study abroad, it changed my life for the better, and made me truly want to become a global citizen.