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Why did you decide to study abroad?

I must admit that at first I was apprehensive about going abroad. Working in the study abroad office on Campus, really gave me the push to go abroad. I was at first afraid, but after reassurance from the staff at my school, I decided to take the leap. Now, don't get me wrong, I have always wanted to go abroad and study and travel the world, yet was still afraid to do so. I finally decided to go abroad, to immerse my self in many different cultures, languages and meet a wealth of people from various backgrounds. Studying religion and criminology on campus, inspired me to study abroad, because I knew the experience would not only make me more well-rounded, but also give me hands on experience of interacting with a variety of people. I also wanted to study abroad to enhance my knowledge of different cultures beyond the textbook. I knew that studying abroad would not only mature me, but also force me to get out of my comfort zone as well. I at first, did not think it was possible, and most certainly did not think I could afford it, but with the help of California Lutheran University staff and my family, I was able to experience this once in a lifetime opportunity!

How did you pay for your study abroad experience?

Being able to go abroad, financially was no easy task! Being blessed with the diversity abroad scholarship, as well as receiving money from my college, made this opportunity possible. In addition, I also set up a go-fund me page, my mom did a lot of fundraising and student loans assisted me to attend the Semester at Sea program.

What is one thing you wish you would have known about studying abroad before you left?

I wish I had known how expensive the field programs were going to be. It would have allowed me to raise more money to participate in these programs. My advice for students thinking about going abroad, it to just go for it! It is a once in a lifetime experience, and regardless of your monetary situation, everything will work out. Moreover, be open minded and willing to not only learn about others, but yourself, as well.

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 myself as an African- American young woman. I think the biggest challenge was more so social and economic barriers. While many people abroad the Semester at Sea, came from higher socioeconomic classes, it allowed me to budget more, and be grateful of the opportunities and experiences that I did encounter. I think one issue that came up was about African-American hairstyles, such as braiding styles. It allowed many of us to have healthy dialogue on respecting, appreciating and validating other's cultures. At times, I did feel like an outcast, being an African American female, but this experience allowed me to develop tough skin and pushed me out of my comfort zone.

How has studying abroad benefited you, personally and academically?

This international experience definitely positively benefited me not only personally, but academically as well. I was able to grow as an individual, learning more about myself during this experience. In addition, I was able to academically grow by being able to truly experience the culture and religion views and principals of the people and regions I was studying. This experience has pushed me to want to study international law, and work over seas, upon graduation. In addition, this experienced allowed me to become more creative and comfortable in communicating with others, who do not speak my language. Most importantly, this experience pushed me to be more culturally sensitive and aware of diverse people. I was encouraged to not only learn about the countries I visited, but also able to participate in the traditions, religion and practices of the people there.

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