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Why did you decide to study abroad?

I wanted to go abroad because I dreamt of seeing the world. I felt like I lived my entire life inside of a box and I knew there was more to see. The biggest influence in my decision was undoubtedly Diversity Abroad because they made it possible for me to actually realize my dream of going abroad.

How did you pay for your study abroad experience?

The Financial Aid Office at my home school Lewis & Clark College, as well as Federal Aid, and of course Diversity Abroad all provided financial aid that allowed me to go abroad. I was fortunate enough to be chosen for Diversity Abroad and FIE Scholarship that really aided my mother in paying for my studies.

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

Don't be afraid to meet new people. Near the beginning of my trip I was feeling very homesick and lonely, which sucked. But, after coming out of my shell and meeting new people I made friends who made me feel less lonely. Your friends and family are all waiting for you, call them and keep in touch but also be ready and open to forming new friendships!

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 gay Latino man and I found Ireland to be a surprisingly progressive place. Despite being a very Catholic country, it was one of the first to legalize gay marriage and I never felt discriminated against for being Latino. It was a breath of fresh air to be in a place where I didn't feel ostracized for being different and it restored my faith in humanity.

How has studying abroad benefited you, personally and academically?

Personally, I feel the biggest benefit from my time abroad is the personal growth that underwent. I have become much more confident and sure of myself as well as developed stronger communicative skills. Not only that I have a new brighter perspective. The world is not a scary place filled with wicked people, it's full of beauty and wonderful people! I understand people much better than I did before and it all came from meeting so many new and interesting people while abroad.

Any additional comments or thoughts that you have about your study abroad experience

Going abroad allowed me to learn more about myself and I feel that now, more than ever, I am prepared for the road ahead of me.

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