Living the life of a foreign exchange student means challenging yourself and stepping outside your comfort zone. These study abroad programs are designed to let you create your own customized, immersive experience. This is the classic study abroad opportunity where you find a place to live, select courses from a host university catalog, and attend classes with local students. This type of experience is ideal for independent adventurers willing to take on the unknown for big rewards. Choose this type of program if you want to make all the decisions yourself and like planning your own side trips and excursions.
Studying at University Carlos III of Madrid for a year allowed me to have a completely different academic experience each semester. My fall semester was a Hispanic studies program aimed at international students. In the spring, I'm doing an immersion and almost all my classmates are Spaniards (although I have the opportunity to take classes in English). I love that! All the professors are friendly, which is something new for me since my university classes at home are so big they barely get to know your name. They are also very passionate about their courses which makes it very interesting and enjoyable.
Conducting research abroad has helped me reach my career goals as a socially engaged social science researcher. Developing connections with professors at UNAM while conducting bibliographical research entirely in Spanish expanded my capacity to contribute to scholarly debates with a transnational perspective. Staying in Mexico City for an entire year allowed me to develop strong relationships, not just academically, but also with civil society organizations working around my areas of concern.
Taking classes related to my major and seeing them through an authentic Danish lens, among a culturally diverse group of students from around the world, was invaluable.
My internship at NUS Forensic Science Laboratory was a boost to my college career and decision-maker of my future. Many students say it's difficult to know what to pursue, yet I believe the first step is to be proactive and I'm glad I took my shot. The challenges that confronted me helped me grow as an individual and the happiness I found throughout this journey made me more certain of becoming a forensic scientist.
I feel really lucky to have completed a study abroad experience at International Christian University (ICU). I'm very grateful to the UCEAP Tokyo team for doing their best to make our experience as amazing as possible. I'm very lucky to have had the opportunity to connect with the community as much as I did. Even though I was only at ICU for half a year, it definitely made my experience 10 times more meaningful.
Adapting to life in Norway was among the most difficult things I've had to do and not knowing the Norwegian language was even harder. Luckily, most people know English and speak it regularly so the transition was easier than I anticipated. The University of Oslo also sets up a buddy week where we were able to meet people in our major. This is where I met friends who I look forward to visiting all over the world. My five months abroad changed me, and I came home with tools to hopefully make gradual change within my community and at home.
In terms of career development, this internship gave me plenty of insight for my future taking into consideration both of my degrees. It gave me the experience to be successful and broadened the employment opportunities available to me upon graduation. I know from my experience that I can choose to work in the communication field immediately out of college. Not only did this internship allow me to apply what I learned in classes, it also allowed me to develop professional skills for any career.
This internship taught me the power of human connection and the significance of human dignity. I built strong friendships and connections with the people at the Hope Exchange, but most of all, had realizations and inspiring moments about my life purpose. I developed deeper patience, empathy, and kindness. Ultimately, my experience brought me greater interpersonal and cross-cultural communications skills, growth in my event coordinating skills, insight into the legal system in South Africa, and a greater awareness about my career path in community-based policy advocacy and social work. I learned that any substantial institutional change is difficult and direct community change is challenging, but equally rewarding as I was able to directly see the impact of my work.
My time abroad brought an incredible amount of cultural exposure which would have been impossible to recreate at my home university. Living in Italy meant speaking with locals on a daily basis, delicious Italian cuisine, and diving head first into Italian culture: fashion, body language, and expressions unique to Bologna like, “Dammi il tiro,” which is a way to ask to be buzzed into the building. These experiences simply cannot be prepared for or replicated in a classroom.
My ideas about conservation, development, and saving the world have changed. I realize now that the most important wildlife conservation has to do with the people who rely on natural resources to live their lives. The biggest threat to biodiversity is poverty and the systems that drive environmental degradation.
I'm hard pressed to think of a better program than the UCEAP program at the University of Barcelona. Like many other students in Europe, I could have traveled every weekend and visited all corners of the continent. Instead, I spent most weekends in Barcelona, sitting in cafes, studying at the library, or shopping with friends. Above all, I reveled in the moments of connection that I felt with the people of Barcelona, especially the way that their eyes would light up when I spoke Catalan to them. “Parles català molt bé!” they might say. I’d reply with a simple, “Merci,” and just smile, knowing that I had participated in a program that gave me a piece of living culture and a language that I still carry with me today.
Living in Europe means effortless travel to numerous countries. A weekend in Paris? Just a train ride away. A week in an all-inclusive Turkish resort? A few hours by plane. Not to mention the beauty of the Netherlands itself–old architecture, delicious stroopwafel, King's Day parades, and the greenest nature you've ever seen. Even though I encountered my fair share of obstacles (I was not sufficiently prepared for Dutch weather and I got on the wrong bus more times than I'd like to admit), my time studying abroad was remarkable.
Under the German education system and its purpose to train students to become future researchers, I had the opportunity to define my research question, consult secondary literature, and write. Essentially, I completed the experience of starting research from scratch.
I had a wonderful time at Dreamfora as a software engineer intern. My role was to oversee the backend infrastructure and set up the testing module for our development team. I learned a lot about industry standards and tools that help run present-day applications. Much of this experience can't be gained in a classroom and it was extremely beneficial for me. Having the chance to intern in a Korean startup was also culturally enriching and I would highly recommend it.