I feel very overwhelmed by everything I have learned and become aware of because of my Global Engagement class in terms of studying abroad. One of my most firm beliefs is that it is incredibly important to experience things first hand and that that is the only way to truly understand them. Going into this, I was very excited at the possibility of getting to study in a foreign country. I had created this image in my mind of carrying some luggage, arriving in another country, having fun, then going back home. My extreme naïveté helped me picture it this way, but after listening to the stories and experiences of students who have traveled abroad, I realized it is this entire life-changing, all-consuming experience and more. I’m overwhelmed because of the possibilities and the fact that there are students like those who visited our class who are trilingual and who have traveled so many places and who are so intelligible and worldly. That’s who I want to be, and I find all of the stories so fascinating (I could listen to them all day). I used to have complete admiration for people who became doctors and scientists and writers (and I still do), but now my deepest admiration goes to people who have traveled the world, learned languages, experienced and appreciated cultures, and immersed themselves in the international world. Of all the problems the human races faces, intolerance and lack of understanding is one of the broadest issues that expedites all the others. People who have more intimate experiences with other people and other ways of life tend to be very open-minded and lacking in the petty ignorance that causes so many problems.
Because I’ve fallen in love with learning Spanish, I’m hoping to travel to a Spanish-speaking country during my junior year of college (once I’m a little more competent with speaking). This summer, I’m hoping to go on the Journey to Brazil, bringing myself into Latin American culture and having my first experience abroad. I’ve started working on scholarship applications as well as scheduling advising appointments.
I’m so grateful to be a part of the Global Fellowship Program. I keep thinking lately that without this class and this opportunity, it would be so much more difficult to get information about studying abroad and international events in general. This class provides us with an exciting and informational environment with great speakers, fun and eye-opening activities, and I can’t wait to take my first study abroad trip.