Why did you decide to study abroad?
I decided to study abroad because because of my major, known as Ethnicity, Race, and Migration. Studying abroad is strongly encouraged for an ER&M major to do because you see the exact things you learn in class in action. The Brazil program was perfect for me because for one, Brazil is one of the best places to study how race, ethnicity, and migration are intertwined and secondly, because I find the most interest in Latinx studies. Many people also encouraged me to study abroad because it would push me out of my comfort zone, making me adapt to a whole new country, language, and culture while being very far from home.
How did you pay for your study abroad experience?
I was able to afford studying abroad by receiving financial aid from my school and by applying for Diversity Abroad's Diversity Network Summer Scholarship. The aid I received from my college was not enough to cover my program so I started looking for outside scholarships that could help cover some of the remaining costs and luckily I found this one.
What is one thing you wish you would have known about studying abroad before you left?
Before going abroad, I wish I would've known that it would have been a bit difficult trying to focus both on my schoolwork and on enjoying and exploring the country I was studying in. I wish I would have went in with a better plan for managing doing both. For students thinking about going abroad, I definitely encourage them to do so, but I would advise them to think about what I mentioned before because I know I was a bit stressed, so I think they need to think about what they're willing to sacrifice at times. I also would advise them to go for everything they are considering or else they will regret it (you're only there once so have fun)!
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 Latina and I myself did not experience any cultural insensitivity like discrimination because of it. To me, Brazil was a very welcoming place and the people in Brazil were very nice and opening. My classmates and I were told several times that we look Brazilian ourselves, so I myself felt comfortable there.
How has studying abroad benefited you, personally and academically?
My international experience helped me become much more independent and open minded as an individual; I pushed myself to try new things. Academically, it has helped me within my own major because I was able to connect things I have learned from my major to the classes I took and my experience overall, which showed me that (1) I really do enjoy my major and (2) what I can possibly choose as my concentration. It also helped me academically because I was able to earn class credits, which will help decrease the load of classes and work that I would need to take up during the school year. Through this experience, I also was able to learn a new language and learn about the history of a country which I fell in love with and definitely want to keep learning about/exploring.
Any additional comments or thoughts that you have about your study abroad experience
Overall, I really enjoyed my experience. Even though sometimes, it felt a bit overwhelming and I did miss home, I feel great knowing that I was able to immerse myself in a different culture and language for 5 weeks and perform well in my classes! I also had a lot of fun with my classmates exploring Brazil.