With Solidarity Comes Friendship

MerryWangVaticanGroupPhoto2019As strange as it may sound, in the weeks leading up to my study abroad trip I had a sense of dread lingering in the back of my mind. During my spring semester of freshman year, I had excitedly signed up for a month-long UTD summer program in Italy and  Switzerland, where I’d be studying the sociology of religion that coming July. But as I sat at home during June and the check-in countdown on my Delta app slowly ticked away, I started having second thoughts. Our study abroad group had only met twice before the trip, and we had never even met with all 18 of us present. I knew that I was going into the program not knowing any of the other participants: that’d been a conscious choice. Two of my friends had signed up for a third-party program for that summer and had asked me to join them, but I decided to do a different program, thinking: what was college if you didn’t try to throw yourself out there, right?

All of a sudden, it’d become the night before the trip and I was almost regretting that decision. I knew that outside of class, the students would be given time on the weekends to explore. But what I didn’t know was whether I’d be able to make friends on the trip to go exploring with, whether I’d enjoy the company of the other students, and whether we’d all walk away from this trip on our separate paths and never talk to each other ever again. I pondered this during my flight to Rome, anxiously shuffling my feet as a group of us followed Francesca, one of our program assistants, to the villa in Rome that’d we be staying at.

Our week in Rome largely consisted of the 18 of us being led around to various landmarks by Dr. Rosen, an art history professor from UTD. I had made some stilted conversation with a few people on the trip and at this point I had accepted my fate, thinking, “well, I made a valiant effort, guess I’ll just go through this month never speaking a word to anyone, it’s fine.”

In retrospect, what broke the ice for all of us was the night that we had to get back to the villa after the group dinner we had had with our professors. The restaurant was quite far from our villa, on the opposite side of the Tiber River. We had originally taken a tram with Francesca to get to the restaurant, but Francesca wasn’t heading back to the villa that night, so we were on our own for the return trip. A few people had decided to walk back to the villa, but a majority of us were waiting for tram 8 at the stop. Trams 3 and 8 came by that particular stop. Time passed. Many tram 3s came by, but no 8. We became more paranoid as it got later into the night. A few of the guys started to doubt whether tram 8 even stopped by our stop, to which one of the other guys swore on his life that tram 8 stopped there since he’d “been stuck for hours at this very stop the week before.” The odd specificity and confidence in his statement, mixed with the deliriousness that nighttime never fails to provide, struck a chord of hilarity among our group and opened up more banter.

At the end of our time in Rome, we packed up our bags and made our way north to Lugano, Switzerland. I should take this opportunity to say that during this trip, things tended to either not work out, or almost not work out. Take the train, for example. We had a 10 minute transfer in Milan when going from Rome to Lugano, our train had arrived late, and the platform number of the next train could not be determined until we arrived at Milano Centrale. I remember all of us rolling our bags off of our first train in a panic as we followed Francesca, straining our eyes and ears towards her before seeing a series of outstretched hands shoot up around her, “Five! Platform Five!” and scurrying onto our connection through the sea of disgruntled Italians.

The last three weeks of the trip were spent in Lugano, where we had our classes at Franklin University. A sense of community had definitely begun to form, from our shared experiences inside and outside of class and inside jokes. We had gone from strangers to friends sharing AirBnBs on the weekends. I personally spent one of my weekends in Florence, Pisa, and Venice in a group of five and my other weekend in Milan in a group of seven. The sense of freedom and adventure that comes with exploring a foreign city with no one but a few of your peers is incomparable: you form a sort of bond that stems from the fact that you’re all young adults from the same university, trying to experience as much as you can while also trying to survive without any supervision. We essentially spent all of our time together.

Our last week in Lugano was a whirlwind as our professor, Dr. Carol Cirulli Lanham, wrapped up the course content and we turned our focus to the final project: a 3000-word sociology paper due on the last day of the program. The last few nights were long and late, but not without a trip to Lake Lugano to shake off our stress. I’ve always claimed that mutual suffering is what brings people together. That’s definitely what happened the last night before I left the dorm, with a few of us sitting in a circle in the kitchen in front of our laptops, sweating from the excessive brain function and the lack of air conditioning in the building.

I left the same day that the program ended, which was a Thursday. The university allowed people to stay in the dorm until Friday, which was the date that most people were leaving. I had booked a flight home from Zurich for Friday, so I wanted to leave a little early to make sure I’d make the flight. A quick round of goodbyes was shared as I left the dorm to head to the train station. I cast a backward glance before Andra, another one of our program assistants, sped off with me in her car to the train station. The solitary train ride, along with the night I spent in the hotel room alone in Zurich, gave me a ton of time to reflect on my experiences, something that I hadn’t had a chance to do up until that point. Upon arriving at the hotel, I took a much-needed shower and nap before waking up and basking in the air conditioning. Sitting in bed, I read through the messages on my phone from my friends who were still at the dorm in Lugano, seeing the notifications pop up and smiling at the reports of their shenanigans on the final night and their declarations of how they missed me already. “I haven’t even been gone 24 hours,” I replied, “what will you do for the three weeks between now and when the semester starts?”

I sit here now in my apartment at UTD as a sophomore. My friends from the study abroad trip and I meet up regularly, and we talk, laugh, and care for each other as if we’ve known each other for three years and not three months. Going on this trip may have been one of the best decisions I’ve made, and I’m grateful that I was able to come out of it with not only a full brain but a full heart. While education is an essential part of study abroad, studying should not be the only thing you’re doing abroad. The friends I made on the trip truly rounded out my experience. To those who are on the fence about study abroad: do it. Jump in without any inhibitions. The experiences will thrill you and change you for the better. And you just might come out with some of the most precious people in your life.

-Merry Wang, Faculty-led in Italy/Switzerland, Summer 2019

Summer in Seoul

Emily LamWhat better way is there to learn about the world and yourself than to live abroad?

I’ll be honest. I chose to study abroad in a late, spur-of-the-moment decision with a friend at 2am. The following 2 months were way more stressful than they should have been, so as a reminder to all, APPLY EARLY! But even if you do decide late in the game like I did, the Study Abroad Office is incredibly flexible and helpful. So despite how impromptu my trip was, it was still one of the best decisions of my life. I just didn’t figure that out until I spent my first week in South Korea.

When I first landed, I knew barely a thing about Korean culture. All I really knew were worrying stories about international trips: possessions were stolen, travel plans were messed up, language barriers were too difficult, people were overwhelmed, etc. I was told to be careful and to look out for myself and to remember all these resources to use when inevitably something goes wrong. For several days, I had a great time in Seoul, but all of it was tinged with a little bit of fear. I was constantly bracing myself for when it would all become too much, and I wouldn’t be able to handle it. And then, as I spent my first weekend there, really exploring the city with new friends from across the globe (including UTD students who I had never seen before), I eventually realized, “Oh, maybe this doesn’t have to be scary. Maybe I can handle this.”

Now don’t get me wrong. It is very important that you be careful, safe, knowledgeable, and prepared, especially going alone to new places and new countries. But the old adage stands: “Hope for the best, plan for the worst.”

I was so caught up in expecting the worst and preparing for the worst that I was letting it hold me back. When I finally let go a bit, I had the easiest, most incredible time in South Korea. I learned so much about other cultures from my new friends and teachers. I reveled in the ease of public transportation that could take me anywhere at anytime. I ate absolutely delicious food. I shopped maybe a little too much. And most importantly, I had so much fun.

So, to anyone reading this that hasn’t gone abroad yet: It’s never too late, it is just as amazing as everyone makes it out to be, be safe, and enjoy yourself!

-Emily Lam, International Summer Semester at Sungkyunkwan University, Summer 2019

Diving into Western European Healthcare

Have you ever imagined interning at hospitals in Europe? As pre-med students, shadowing physicians is a very important part of our journey towards getting into medical school. Atlantis is a pre-med fellowship designed to connect students with physicians, while also immersing them in the local culture. Sightseeing, trying out the local cuisine, and standing next to surgeons in the operating room are just a few of the awesome memories I have made abroad. I’ll admit I was a bit scared to travel at first because of the language and culture barrier, but I got accustomed pretty fast.

I got the opportunity to shadow in many different departments, such as Orthopedics, Ambulatory Surgery, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Pediatric Emergency and Cardiology, Nuclear Medicine, Hematology, Otolaryngology, Microbiology, Urology, Neurology, and Neurophysiology. I enjoyed all the departments, but more so the ones who allowed me to watch surgeries. I got very good insights from anesthesiologists and surgeons on the type of work they do, and I am considering pursuing a career in the surgical world.

My favorite part of this trip was being able to give back to the physicians who helped teach us about their day-to-day job. We did so by helping them improve their English skills. My friend and I even held joined classes together with our physicians. That really helped them see what their level of English was, and what they needed to work more on. In one session, we sat through a few consultations and while the doctor talked to the patient in Spanish, we translated the whole conversation in English. Moreover, we worked on medical vocabulary, pronunciation, and improving communication skills. This strategy worked very well, because it is what they truly are interested in improving, and that is a patient-doctor conversation.

Alisia Tumac

Dr. Maria Artigas, on the left, and Dr. Olga, on the right, spend most of their summers abroad in Kenya where they volunteer at a children’s hospital. Speaking English well helps them understand and communicate with their patients easily and improves doctor-patient trust. This is very important, especially since most of the patients are little children.

Overall, studying abroad was a memorable experience. Every patient has his or her own story to tell and they all need a compassionate and caring doctor to take care of them. The physicians I met are very empathic, passionate, and humble people. Moreover, the welcoming culture of Portugal and Spain made me feel like home and while I got to enjoy all the beautiful sights and the cuisine, I also got to make long-lasting friendships.

-Alisia Tumac, Independent study in Spain/Portugal, Summer 2019

Summer Internship in Spain

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to complete my first internship abroad in Madrid, Spain. Since this was my first internship I had no idea what to expect but I was excited because one of my dreams was about to become reality. As it got closer for me to leave I started getting more and more nervous, this was my first time traveling alone and I had no idea what was waiting for me in Spain. Once I got there the first couple of days were not the best, I could not eat anything even if I tried and my body decided to get sick. I honestly wanted to go home but that was not an option for me because I knew I had to complete this internship and I knew it was for my benefit. After about 4 days I started to feel better, I could finally eat again and my throat stopped hurting. I started to be my usual self and enjoy this amazing opportunity that life has given me.

Leslie Magana

I can honestly say this was the best experience of my life, yes, it took me a couple of days to get used to the new environment but I would gladly go through it again because this internship not only helped me gain experience but it also helped me grow as a person. I had the opportunity to work for an international company and travel around Europe. My internship consisted of me creating posts on Instagram describing and marketing the company’s services, translating documents and presentations being shown to big companies such as BBVA and I also conducted research for them. Considering this was my first internship I think it went extremely well, I actually had work that helped the company and not just busywork like making copies and bringing coffee to people. As for my personal growth, I believe this abroad internship helped me be more independent and helped me realize where I want my career to be headed in the future. I now know how it is to work for an international company and all the work it takes to keep everything on track. I learned a lot during this internship which I know will help me in the future when I decide to apply to companies after graduation.

Of course, not everything was work, the program that I applied to had a couple of amazing events planned throughout the weeks. I had the opportunity to go to Toledo for a day, visit the soccer stadium and have dinner while watching a Flamenco show. Not only that but I also had the opportunity to go to Belgium for a weekend and it was amazing, the food was good and the people were nice and polite. My friend and I decided to take a tour that covered a couple of cites so we could get the most out of our stay.

As I said before, this was the best decision I have made in my life, it was a wonderful experience, where I not only gained professional experience but I also grew as a person and had the opportunity to travel outside of Spain. I 100% recommend this to anyone, not everyone has this type of opportunity so if you have a chance on going don’t let it pass, take advantage of it because it is worth it.

-Leslie Magana, Internship in Spain, Summer 2019

My Study Abroad Experience in England

This spring of 2019, I had the incredible opportunity of studying abroad at the University of Reading, located just 30 minutes away from the beautiful city of London. I can say that this experience waZara Ibrahims nothing short of amazing. Although I had been to England before, living there was a completely new experience.

Reading is a small town yet it has everything you need. Within a 10 minute bus ride you could reach the mall, movies, grocery stores, restaurants, museums, cathedral and even the train station. One thing I really loved about living in Reading was the weather. I had been looking for a way to escape the Texas heat and experiencing cold weather for most of my time was pretty great.
School wise, I found the education system much more relaxed. My classes would only meet once a week, and we were given a longer time frame to complete assignments, if any. The big difference was that classes were focused on independent study so there weren’t many assignments or reviews before exams to prepare you but you were given a lot of time to study. I really enjoyed my classes and learning amongst British locals and immersing myself into their culture. During my semester, I made friends with exchange students from Korea, China, Japan, France, Australia, Germany and Belgium. Meeting people from different parts of the world was definitely one the best parts of the whole experience. There were also short trips and on campus events planned for exchange students so there was always something to do.

One thing I really liked about the UK was the public transportation. The local buses, trains, and underground made it easy to navigate through England. I visited London numerous times, being that it was a close distance from Reading. The trains to London would run every 5 minutes which was super convenient in case you missed your train. Visiting London was one of the things I was looking forward to the most. Being that it is very vibrant, full of history and beautiful architecture, with every street having its own beauty, and just having so much to do and explore. I got to see so much in London but it still felt like I only saw a small part considering how much it has to offer. I was also able to take day trips to see Stonehenge, Bath, Oxford, Dover, and other cities in England. Apart from exploring England, I had the opportunity to travel to places such as Scotland, Spain, and Austria.

Studying abroad had always been a dream of mine and getting the opportunity to partake in this experience was truly wonderful. I am so thankful for this opportunity for giving me confidence, a sense of independence, a new global perspective, a stronger passion for traveling, and a lifetime of memories that will forever be cherished. I can now say studying abroad was the best decision of my life.

-Zara Ibrahim, Exchange at University of Reading, Spring 2019

Advice for Interning Abroad

Haley Ziomek

I was fortunate enough to spend 4 amazing weeks interning abroad in Madrid, Spain. There was A LOT I had to figure out on my own and a lot I wish someone had told me before I went. I have compiled a list of tips and tricks for anyone interested in interning abroad (some of this probably applies to domestic internships as well) that I encourage you to read and consider:

1. If you’re thinking of interning abroad, but you’re nervous: DO IT! As long as you have financial capability, I highly encourage everyone to take the chance while they are in college because it’s an amazing experience and one that you will probably never get again.

2. Four weeks is not long enough to truly get into the job experience because it takes two weeks to actually get into the workflow and then you’re getting ready to leave by the time you get adjusted. My internship was 4 weeks and while I had plenty of time for travelling and seeing the city, I felt I needed at least another month to get the best internship experience I could have had.

3. Interns do much of the same work no matter where you are and what the industry is. Be prepared for data entry in Microsoft Excel and a lot of research.

4. Look for internship programs that have partial board available so you don’t have to spend all your money on food. You want to be able to eat a few meals out, but not every meal of every day because that will take away from the amount you can spend on things that will last longer than food like souvenirs and shopping.

5. Reach out to people that have done specific programs or companies you’re looking at to make sure the picture perfect image you’re seeing online is true and accurate. There might be something about the program that people are hesitant to post online, but would happily tell you by phone or email. However, some programs can be good even if there’s not a lot of information about them on the web.

6. Go and do the internship even if you don’t know anybody. I went without anybody from my school or even my state, but I made friends quickly in my program because we were all thrown into the same situation.

7. Take advantage of your time because it truly flies by in an instant. Trust me. The first week may seem really slow while you’re adjusting to the new culture and surroundings, but the second, third, and consecutive weeks go by so quickly you’re left dumbfounded at how it happened so quickly.

8. Try to budget, but don’t worry if you spend a little more than planned. You can always work more when you get home to make up the money, but you probably won’t get the chance to buy a souvenir or some pants from (insert country name here) again.

9. Make friends in your program and locally! There will be a lot of free time and you’ll want people to meet for lunch or with whom you just want to chat. Perks of local friends are an inside look at the city and sometimes cheaper ways to have fun.

10. Make friends with your coworkers. Even if you don’t speak their language, try to interact with them because it will make your work experience better (and a good way to network). Talk to them if you can even using gestures or…gasp…Google Translate. This includes your boss if he or she is not too busy.

11. If you have something listed on the resume you sent your boss, brush up on those skills! I had Photoshop on my resume because I took a college course on it, but it had been a while since I used it. My boss asked me during the first week to use photoshop to create some images for him and I had to search some Youtube tutorials because I forgot how to do certain shortcuts!

12. Ask for more work, but only if you’ve finished your other work to a good standard. Don’t think the little tasks or data entry is pointless. Do your work well and ask for more because you’re ultimately there to help the company with whatever they need you to do. You never know if that task you’re working on might be displayed on the company’s website which is a fantastic thing to show future employers.

13. Don’t turn down a coffee or lunch break with your boss or coworkers. It’s another way to show them you’re serious about your job and another way to connect with them.

14. Go meet other interns in your program for lunch! It’s fun to see the work place and surrounding environment of other people in your program!

Haley Ziomek2

15. Bring your own laptop (if you can). This makes it possible to work in a familiar space and not have to mess with foreign keyboards. Even if your work says they can provide you one, bring your own.

16. Always dress well and professional even if your colleagues don’t. You aren’t just representing yourself, but your country, school, program, and the company’s decision to possibly host more interns in the future.

17. Pack enough outfits to change out of your work clothes, but not too many that you won’t have room to bring any new stuff back. If your residence doesn’t have a washer and dryer, you can buy detergent at the store and wash clothes in your bathroom sink or shower.

18. DON’T worry about your diet (too much), but DO find time to walk around the city or workout. Get that extra scoop of gelato. Eat that plate of patatas fritas. Do what the locals do because you only have a limited amount of time. You don’t want to regret not trying something because you might have gained one pound in a day. You might not get the chance again because you probably don’t have this kind of food at home.

19. Be aware that your routine won’t be the same. It doesn’t mean you can’t try, but just know that it will change. I’m an athlete and had set workouts during my time abroad, but I had to switch the order of some of them due to my schedule. Know that you’ll have an amazing opportunity to live and work in another country, but find time to continue to do what makes you happy for your daily routine.

20. Don’t spend too much time napping in your room. It’s okay to do it a few times, but go out and see the world! Even if you’re tired or by yourself, you went abroad to push your limits of comfort and explore a different place. Find your own way. Ask locals for help-they won’t mind. You’ll regret it if you don’t. You can sleep when you get home.

21. Use your free time wisely. It’s worth the investment to intern abroad if you’re program guarantees some free time outside of work to travel and see parts of your program destination because the last thing you’d want is to spend so much time in a cool place and not have been able to do anything other than work.

22. Adapters for outlets and a portable charger are a must! You can find cheap ones on Amazon.

23. Consider getting a local sim card for your phone when you’re there because it’s usually cheaper than extending your service plan from your home country. You can’t call anyone from home, but you can still Facetime or use any messaging over Wifi free of charge.

24. Bring snacks from home and don’t eat them all in the first week! You’ll want them especially towards the end of your program!

25. Just like at college, don’t forget to keep talking to your friends and family and ask for pictures of your dogs. Even if you’re having a great time, they will miss you and you, them. A short facetime can bring you a lot of comfort when you’re by yourself thousands of miles away.

26. Be thankful for your opportunity and absorb all you can for your experience

Good luck and congrats on deciding to intern abroad! You will do great!

-Haley Ziomek, Internship in Spain, Summer 2019

When in the Streets of Sevilla

Shraddha Trehan

I should start off this post by explicitly stating that I am an incredibly blessed and fortunate girl, and I know that especially in this moment. I have returned from a trip in a place that felt like it was on the complete opposite side of the world. And I cannot stress this enough when I write: many people travel many places during their lives, but only a few get to travel during their college years and experience something that literally changes their lives; if you get the chance to change your life for the better, you should do it.

I remember when I first set off for Spain I felt both entirely relieved and jarred. Relieved because I was FINALLY going; Jarred because I was finally GOING. I was unsure of what this trip would hold, but I remember idealistically thinking that it could only be good things. I justified it with the thought that this trip could bring out only the best in me and thus could be only the best for me. For me, this trip represented and still represents the best of living — the ability to learn.

Once the trip began, of course, there were many ups and downs, lefts and rights. As soon as my group and I set foot on Spanish soil things became busy but in an incredibly fascinating and whirlwind kind of way. I remember Steven (Global Ed’s Director) telling us during our Welcome Orientation that at the beginning of this trip we were in our “Honeymoon” phase of this study abroad and that soon we would fade out of this feeling and just feel normal, if not a little sad, before (hopefully) re-entering an excited state at the end of the experience. However, if I can be honest, I never stopped feeling like I was on my “Honeymoon” — I liked Sevilla when I got there, but I loved it when I left.

If you get the chance to go to Sevilla you’ll be able to see right away why people fall in love with the city. To tell you all it is beautiful is not giving Sevilla justice. This place is absolutely breathtaking; no wonder people stay here forever. I can assure you all right now that this architecture, these streets, and this phenomenal fashion will continue to astonish and amaze you every single day that you are there as it did me while I was. More than anything, the memory that is most ingrained in my mind of Sevilla is the feeling of sunglasses behind my ears, the ache in my feet from walking around for miles and miles all around Spain, and the smile that rested on my face after every single very long but wonder-full days.

It is so strange how time flies so quickly while you are on your study abroad. You get caught up in your internship where the Doctors and Doctoras show you that medicine is much more than medical school, the nurses show you that a team is much more than its leader, and the hospital itself helps you realize that the work environment you wish to be in for the rest of your life really is where you belong. You get caught up in the country and the city and the beauty around you; visiting place after place: Seville, Italica, Cádiz, Granada, Madrid, Segovia, Córdoba. You get caught up in the whole lifetime of a month that you are there because you realize that family is so much more than blood and the bond of Spain will tie you together with people who were once strangers for the rest of your lives no matter where you all are in the world.

But then, it’s your last day, and you take a moment to remember. You take a moment to breathe and think and cherish. You take a moment for gelato and for walking and for sunsets and for the river and for parks and for dancing and for laughter and for light and for Spain and for this, your study abroad experience. And you are thankful, so very thankful for it all.

For me, a study abroad was much more than a traveling experience. It was THE experience of a lifetime. It represents memories made and dreams come true. If you get the chance to change your life for the better, you should do it.

-Shraddha Trehan, Medical Spanish and Internship, Summer 2019

LSE Summer School Experience

London is truly the most vibrant and cosmopolitan city in the world. I was breath-taken as soon as I landed into Heathrow Airport right up until the last night I was there when I stayed out until 3 AM walking around and enjoying my time with the best people. In order to gain a taste of study abroad as well as enhance my career portfolio, I decided to take an intensive three-week course called Alternative Investments at the London School of Economics. There, I met soNikhil Gotgime of the brightest and most successful students from all around the world and was taught by renowned professors. I had never thought it was possible to learn so much in such a short time, and I never realized that I could ever make lifelong friends in just three weeks. From studying together to eating at a restaurant at 2 AM, I could not be more grateful for this experience. It is something that I will hold dear to my heart forever, and I am already looking forward to my next trip to London. I am extremely grateful for the UTD staff and the study abroad office for providing me with financial aid and scholarships to gain insight into other cultures, and I truly recommend and advise everyone to study abroad whenever possible. Seeing the world by yourself has remarkable effects on your life, including finding yourself, realizing what you want to do with your life, experience new cultures and try everything that comes with that culture, and meet some of the best people from all over the world. Education is something that ties people from all over together, and my experience at LSE was nothing short of that.

-Nikhil Gotgi, London School of Economics, Summer 2019

My Time in Nanjing, China

China is a beautiful country. Rich with history, culture, food, and life, China is a must-see destination for everyone. This summer I had the privilege of participating in the Hobson Wildenthal Honors College Collaborative Exchange Program with Southeast University in Nanjing, China. For two weeks, I learned about Chinese history, Confucius philosophy, traditional Chinese opera, and more. I was able to visit extraordinary places, such as the Ming Tomb, the Confucius Temple, and the Nanjing Museum, and meet incredible people whom I have since formed great friendships with. I have learned about the city’s tragic history, and I have learned about the need to build better relationships among ourselves, especially now. Although I am Chinese, I have learned a great deal more about my own culture and heritage from my experience in Nanjing. I have been to China in the past, but this was my first time in Nanjing. I have grown to love the city of Nanjing in such a short amount of time. I love the night life, the transportation system, the food, and the history. But, most of all, I love the people.

Jordan Chen

Without the Chinese students or faculty, our stay would have been drastically different. They created an amazing environment for the exchange students to bond with each other and experience college life in China. I am so appreciative of my time with the Honors College in China. The Honors College designed this program with Southeast University in order for both Chinese and American students to experience the culture and life of each respective country. I find opportunities like this to be not only important but also impactful on every student’s life. Traveling abroad and experiencing different cultures are rare, and I hope that people will see its benefits and take advantage of future opportunities.

-Jordan Chen, Faculty-led in China, Summer 2019

My Time in Dubai

Dubai is something else, it felt like I was in a dream the entire time I was there. Yes the weather was super hot and the sun was extra strong, but the amount of culture you get to experience is hard to describe.

Juan Tunon

Some of the most iconic things we did while we were there was a desert safari, go to the Burj Khalifa, and explore Dubai during our free time, the reason I say during our free time is because this was an educational trim where we spent a lot of time meeting with companies. But hands down, the most fun thing we did was the Desert safari. It started off with sand dune driving, where some professional drivers did some really fun “extreme” driving. Then we took photos in the middle of the desert. Lastly, we went to a “camp” where we got to ride camels, eat traditional food, hennah, watch some traditional dancing as well as listen to traditional music. That was some of the most fun I have ever had, and is something I would recommend to everyone. Also, people from the UAE are some of the nicest, most welcoming people I have ever met, no one was rude. The city was also super safe, I believe the tour guide told us there was a 0% crime rate, and that’s because they punish crime heavily. Obviously they have crime, but I believe people pay off the fines in order to avoid jail. 10/10 recommend.

-Juan Tunon, Faculty-led in United Arab Emirates, Spring 2019

A celebration of culture and humanity

Lithuania Smith for blog

Being a freshman from Utah, I chose to come to UTD because of the opportunity and resources provided to help students achieve. I could not have made a better choice. It was only the first semester of college for me, but I was fortunate enough to become friends with three very intelligent and encouraging freshmen in the business school at UTD. We formed a team to submit into an international social business competition called Creative Shock. A few submissions and all-nighters later, we were informed that our team had made it into the Top 10 submissions out of hundreds, and were invited to compete in the finals in Vilnius, Lithuania! It was the first time I had ever been out of the United States, and I truly did not know what to find on the other side of our eighteen-hour plane flight. When we arrived and finally got out of the airport, I was not disappointed.

Our short trip was largely consumed by the competition, which was hosted by ISM, a business college in Vilnius. Teams came from all over–Thailand, India, Germany, Norway, Canada, Georgia, and Lithuania itself. The competition was not all work though; it was largely centered around a celebration of culture and humanity. We had socials where we mingled, danced, sang, and educated one another about the different cultures we each came from. Guest business owners were brought in and each had a chance to speak in a conference about their businesses and how they were contributing to social entrepreneurship. Each business was trying to do something different for humanity–employ the blind and mentally disabled, house the homeless, and even put all profits towards providing clean water for those in Malawi. In America, people are more than willing to address social issues and are happy to cater to small businesses attempting to provide quality products. However, certain places in Europe, such as Lithuania, are still working on getting the public involved in these pursuits. Slowly, but surely, they are succeeding. It was so fulfilling to see that we as people are all quite alike, regardless of where we live. We want to help and serve others, and I was honored to be involved in the social business efforts of those at Creative Shock.

When we weren’t competing, we took every chance possible to go out on the city. Everything in Vilnius, from the people to the food, is down-to-earth and beautiful. Food and bought goods are cheaper, people drive compact cars, and the streets are cobbled. The buildings are often tall, old, and constructed in close proximity to one another. Christmas was alive there: The souvenir shops and restaurants were illuminated by the lights strung above the streets, and a humongous tree was erected downtown. The people had set up a sort of food rendezvous, where locals served authentic food from different cultures underneath separate tents. I had a Belgian waffle and potato cakes. To add to the excitement, the man serving wine was overly interested in my team members’ individual romantic lives…

Which brings me to the people! They initially give off a dignified and quiet vibe. Once you get them talking though (most of them know English), they are very real, honest, and friendly. Not even the constant snow keeps them indoors. They love food (their two traditional dishes are a pink, cold beet soup and potatoes stuffed with meat), and are humble in the lifestyle they live. They love to party, and drinking along with smoking is quite common. They find happiness in the simpler things in life–meeting and interacting with others, working a respectable job, and taking pride in their culture. I LOVE the people of Lithuania and thank them for all of their hospitality.

-Shay Smith, Creative Shock Finals in Vilnius, Lithuania, Fall 2018

Lithuania – The Most Underrated Country in Europe

Lithuania for blog

Early December, I competed in Creative Shock’s International Social Business Case Competition against 400+ universities, 100+ countries, and 1,750+ participants. My team consisted of four freshmen competing in an undergraduate and graduate level competition. We spent 10 hours overnight on a social business case, and created a detailed advertisement campaign in 9 hours during the day.

The top 10 teams qualified, and my team placed 5th, thus advancing to finals in Vilnius, Lithuania. The competition was organized by students in the the International School of Management in Vilnius. Through the cultural presentations and networking events/opportunities, I was able to meet highly talented individuals from Thailand, the UK, Canada, India, Georgia, etc. It was truly the most extraordinary experience I have ever had, and I am so grateful to have been a part of this as a first year student.

– Lourdes Buksh, Independent Study in Lithuania, Fall 2018

Oxford Research and London Exploration

UK for blog Mathew (At Stonehenge before arriving in London.)

The opportunity to travel with friends overseas is an experience that will stick with me, and my new friends, forever. I would never have met most of the students who traveled alongside me if it weren’t for this trip to England and the chance, we had to present our research paper at Oxford. Not only did I learn the culture and learn some of the small differences in England. I got do it alongside my peers. Anything we noticed that was slightly different compared to the U.S. we all pointed out to each other. For example, customer service was much different, but the people were so kind to foreigners and knew where to suggest we visit for the true experience. The best views in England was seeing the mix and match of new buildings alongside the old ones, being able to climb to the top of a church and seeing the city.
The chance to present my research to both colleagues and recognized researchers at such an iconic building was an amazing experience. It was nice getting to see how important research is, not just for personal knowledge, but as it affects the global community. There was a lot I learned from being able to see everyone’s presentations, but the education wasn’t held to only that. While at Stonehenge I was able to learn about the extensive history England has. Seeing how far back some of the architecture and history goes as compared to America truly is extraordinary. One of the most impressive things that I had a chance to do was to visit the British Museum and then ride the London Eye. Not only was it fun, but the amount of priceless world treasures that you could see really surprised me.

–  Marilyn Mathew, Faculty-led in the United Kingdom, Fall 2018

Thanksgiving in the United Kingdom

One of the most prestigious, adventurous, challenging, and fun experiences of my life has Oxford for Blogbeen my one week in the United Kingdom. With the adrenaline rush, city lights, different culture surrounded by a great group of classmates and our professor, the UK regional management trip was a success! Exploring Oxford University and having the opportunity to present my research over Digital marketing in the United Kingdom has been an extraordinary experience that has changed my life forever. The presentation at Rhodes house gave me so much confidence in myself and knowledge I never knew I could ever gain. Research is a huge part of making our educational systems successful and is necessary to carry out courses, textbooks and information to grow the generation and keep on working for success. My research focused on Digital marketing compared between the United Kingdom and the United States. Also, on this trip I made connections with people that I met will change my life forever. Furthermore, exploring Oxford and London, and it’s culture has been extremely fun and adventurous, the appreciation of art at the museums, the appreciation of history in every angle that I turn. If I can ever reflect on this trip in more than one paragraph it would be a whole book of reflections! My life has changed forever after the UK regional management trip and I am proud to say I haven’t visited multiple universities in the United Kingdom and have presented a research in them.

–  Farah Nashat, Faculty-led in United Kingdom, Fall 2018

Fulfillment for having learned so much…

UK for blog Smith Upon touching ground on United States soil after spending a week abroad in the United Kingdom, there were two preeminent feelings that I experienced: one being sadness for having to had return home so soon and the other being fulfillment for having learned so much while away. There were countless opportunities while abroad to capitalize on and learn from, and I took advantage of every possible one. My study abroad group had the chance to visit Oxford and London while in Europe, and with it being my first time in the United Kingdom, I had very high expectations and an even higher level of enthusiasm to be able to experience an entirely new and different culture from Dallas, Texas.

The first portion (and majority) of the trip was spent in Oxford, England, where each student participating in the University of Texas at Dallas study abroad trip, were meant to provide a presentation based on their individual research. However, before the day of the presentation, we had a couple of days to soak up as much of the charming and historic city of Oxford as we could. The first day the group was in Oxford, the professor gave us a brief tour of the city center. After night came, we each went our separate ways, with myself deciding to hit up a pub by the name of The Grape. At this pub, I got the chance to converse with three English gentleman about several different topics, as they were interested in my being American, but mainly about what their favorite football club was. Confabulating with some British folk on the subject of European football was one of the foremost things that I wanted to experience while in the United Kingdom, and the fact that I got to be able to do so is extraordinary.

The second day in Oxford consisted mainly of sightseeing and trying as many delectable, British restaurants as possible. For lunch, the group went to a traditional, English sandwich shop, where I had the privilege of trying a lamb samosa, one of the best foods I have ever put into my mouth. The name of the sandwich shop was Taylor’s, and I found myself wandering back there multiple times throughout the trip for various meals. The next day was the day of our presentations, which lasted from early in the morning to late in the night. It was truly an incredible experience being able to even stand in the esteemed Rhodes House of the University of Oxford, let alone be able to give an entire presentation on a topic of our interest. Personally, I am egregious at academic presentations and this opportunity helped me improve my confidence and my delivery of information. The next couple days in Oxford incorporated a mixture of more independent sightseeing, but also some group excursions.

After having an outstanding time in Oxford, the group finally departed for London on the fourth day of the trip, which left us three full days to experience all we could in one of the greatest cities in the world. In London, I decided to spend the majority of my time with the rest of the study abroad group. Of the three days that we had to see as much of London as possible (a formidable challenge), we spent most of that time visiting the major attractions the city had to offer. Our personal guide took us on a detailed tour of the Tower of London, explaining the reason for why it was built like it was, who occupied it in different parts of history, etc., and then later went into even more detail at the National Gallery. After a day of seeing the major attractions, the group spent time at the prestigious University of Sunderland, where we were presented to by two, remarkable professors about business in China and the United Kingdom. These talks were incredibly informative on the practices of businesses in foreign countries, and brought to my attention the differences and similarities of overseas companies compared to companies in the United States.

Overall, the trip to the United Kingdom was an educational and beautiful experience, with countless opportunities.

–  Scott Smith, Faculty-led in United Kingdom, Fall 2018

The Benefits of Studying Abroad as a Pre-Health Student

Processed with VSCO with c7 preset   As a pre-health student, I would watch all my non-pre-health friends study art history in Paris, learn Spanish in Barcelona, and experience authentic Italian food in Rome. I envied them as I spent any free time I had taking science classes, shadowing health professionals, or volunteering at local organizations. At first, I thought I wouldn’t have time to study abroad, but by being proactive and planning in advance, I was able to study abroad for a month in Seoul. I opted out of doing a program that focused on pre-health and instead took a class on the Urban Sociology of the Subcultural Neighborhoods in the City of Seoul, which was completely unrelated to my biology degree and my career goal of becoming a physical therapist. However, I gained numerous benefits that I would not have been able to gain from spending my summers taking science classes or shadowing health professionals.

So what are some of the benefits of studying abroad as a pre-health student? Here are some of the most helpful skills I gained while abroad:

1. Communication Skills

While studying abroad in a country where English isn’t the native language it is inevitable that you’ll hit a language barrier. I had learned how to read and say the most common phrases in Korean but many times that wasn’t enough and would lead to a game of charades as I tried to communicate with the locals. The absence of a common language made me more cognizant of nonverbal communication and how powerful it can be when communicating with others. No matter what healthcare professional you aspire to be, there will be times where verbal communication will not be enough and being able to use nonverbal communication is what will make you a more effective clinician. By studying abroad, you really get the opportunity to practice and build on this skill, especially in a country where English isn’t the main language.

2. Cultural Competency

I was surrounded by a culture that was completely different from the culture back home both inside and outside of the classroom. My peers were from various countries like Singapore, France, and Mexico, which fostered diverse perspectives in class. Due to the multicultural nature of my surroundings, I ended up gaining a better understanding of various cultures and came back with a more global perspective. As a pre-health student and future healthcare professional, it is important to have this skill since the patient population is extremely diverse. That being said, being culturally competent is an extremely useful skill and it’s directly cultivated by studying abroad.

3. Ability to Persevere

During the short time I was abroad, there wasn’t a day where I wasn’t faced with a challenge. I faced both major and minor challenges such as culture shock, difficulty navigating the subway system, and a language barrier. At first, these obstacles made me want to stay in my dorm rather than explore the city. However, I knew I had to overcome them to experience everything Seoul had to offer. As a result of overcoming the numerous challenges, I got to experience Seoul to its fullest and gained more self-confidence and the ability to persevere. This is probably the most important skill I brought back home. Instead of being intimidated by obstacles, I see them as an opportunity for personal growth now and embrace them. Having this mindset and the ability to persevere is a skill that will help any pre-health student make it through graduate school to enter their desired healthcare field.

The experiences, skills, and knowledge that I gained in South Korea have helped shape me into a better pre-health student. These are just a few of the skills that I thought were directly important for a pre-health student to have. However, studying abroad fosters a plethora of skills, which is why I encourage every pre-health student who thinks they don’t have the time or doesn’t see the importance of studying abroad, to actually do it.

–  Shraddha Bista, exchange at Sungkyunkwan University,  Summer 2018

My International Internship Experience

In the summer of 2018, I got a chance to complete an international internship as a finance intern in a company located in Pune, India. The interesting aspect of this internship experience was not the traveling or residential experience in India but increasing my knowledge about corporate Finance. You may be wondering as to why living in India was not the highlight of my trip! I have lived in India for nine years. My family owns a house in Pune. So, though I got a chance to complete an international internship in my home city, I did not have to worry about any transportation or residential issues. However, does that mean that my trip was boring. Of course not! I got a chance to meet all my school friends and most importantly my relatives. I also enjoyed eating street food as I was craving it since I came back to the US. I even got to enjoy the night life in Pune. While these were the things that I did, I would also like to talk about my internship experience.

I was offered the internship through an official network connect. Having just completed my freshman year, I was not sure what to expect out of the internship as this was my first opportunity as an intern. With multiple discussions about the internship tasks with my undergrad advisor, I finally decided to take a leap into the opportunity. I also received a scholarship from my university which was a feather in the cap and my journey to India began.

Throughout the course of the internship, I got a chance to interact with the CEO of the company, the President of the US company and even the financial head of the US entity. My internship experience included tasks of analyzing excel spreadsheets to setting up meetings with 3rd party vendors. Throughout the internship my mentor Richa Singh played a key role in assigning me tasks and explaining me what output was expected.

As a part of my internship, in my first assignment I had to research and find out how the credit rating of a company is determined. This also included obtaining a DUNS number for the company. A DUNS number helps a potential client determine whether the company it wants to do business with, is financially stable or not. It also gives ratings based on awards won by the company and present number of employees. As a part of this assignment I got a chance to set up a meeting between the CEO of e-Zest Solutions Ltd and some representatives of the credit rating issuing company, Dun and Bradstreet. As a part of the assignment, I even got a chance to get an overview of how a corporate company’s financials are interpreted.

Amongst many other tasks, I also was told to create a sales report for the US entity. This sales report helped me analyze the funds a company is willing to invest on business trips. I got a good overview of how a company distributes its work by analyzing work orders. This analysis included making key changes to pre- made working orders like adding jobs offered by the company based on a project and the salary offered for these jobs. It also included analyzing grammatical errors. This task helped me improve my knowledge of Microsoft Word; overview of the shortcuts used in word which would particularly help me in my completion of a MS Word certification.

At the end of the internship I realized my decision to take up the opportunity was indeed the best one. I will be able to apply the knowledge gained in 6 weeks throughout different courses in the curriculum.

–  Abhishek Joshi, Internship in India, Summer 2018

London School of Economics (LSE)

London LL 2016    Having lived in Europe for thirteen years I was no foreigner to to the UK, but all my previous visits had been for leisure. I had always stayed in a hotel or a day trip, this however was going to be a two month stay in one of the largest cities in Europe. The largest city I have ever lived in was Dallas, but London was different from the moment I Landed. I took a taxi, not to a hotel or a popular tourist destination but to my accommodation at Sydney Webb house on the Southern Bank. I was about twenty minutes away from central London were all the hustle and bustle was going on. It was a bit daunting at first to get used to the fact that I was going to be staying in this room for two months on my own, the longest I ever have been away form family.

But the classes left no time for me to get homesick, from day one the program started with no intention of slowing down. The professor was engaging made the three hours go by in a flash, when I initially saw the timetable I thought “there’s no way I’m going to be able survive two months of this!”. While the lecture was engaging the class wasn’t a cakewalk, we had a paper due immediately for the second week, a presentation during the first two weeks then a final for the third and final week. Luckily the professor and the two TA’s were extremely helpful when it came to any questions relating to the course and the LSE facilities were amazing as well. This was the same for all sessions, the professors knew we only had three weeks to digest a semesters worth of material and they themselves tried to be available late into the night to help us succeed. It didn’t feel like a chore but a challenge.

London itself was amazing the summer I was there, no rain in sight and the atmosphere in the city was awesome due to the world cup going on at the same time. The city was full of people from all over rooting for their teams and you would not have a hard time to find fans from your favorite team.

Transportation in the city is what makes me miss it when looking at the DART system here in Dallas. It may be crowded and the tube can get delayed quite a bit, but the convenience is amazing and affordable as well. No matter where you needed to go either a bus or tube stop was there, and if that was not to ones liking then renting a bike or simply walking is also a possibility.

Of course I can’t talk about London without talking about visiting some tourist spots. I went to and recommend the Tower of London, for around 25 pounds you get to see three different museums, which include the iconic crown jewels and the crows of the Tower. Once you are done you can then walk over the London bridge and over to the eye of London. I also visited the Shard, the tallest building in London, from which you can admire the skyline of London.

The two months went by way to quick, but thanks to the time I spent there I was able to make friends from Korea, France, Switzerland, Brazil, Columbia, Austria and Australia. The amount of nationalities you meet in this program is incredible, even if you don’t learn much from the classes you will at least be meeting people form all over which easily was one of the more fun parts of the program.

I’d love to go back once more, but I hope others from UTD would make the trip over their and represent our school.

–  Eric Wiggins, Summer School Abroad, Summer 2018

Research Abroad in New Zealand

Research Abroad

[Photo Caption: Me in a clean room wear outfit in a dedicated photo lithography wear]

This summer I was able to do research in New Zealand. I reached out to a New Zealand university research laboratory that I was interested in (and was also a very good reason to travel) and the PI warmly invited me to spend the summer in her laboratory. I was placed under the graduate student who was excited to have me join his project.

As this was not a formal research program with no planned poster or paper due at the end, I had to monitor myself and my own achievements and goals. The goals I worked for were; getting a degree of responsibility and freedom in the project, and learning the various theories encompassed in the project. As my hand skills increased, I was given more and more responsibility with the project as I was trusted to be able to go through the steps alone- allowing the graduate student to work on other steps. Learning the theories of direct writing and polymer properties were difficult, but learned mostly as I worked with it. Learning that different temperatures and humidity affected the water evaporation rate which affected the success of the direct writing was learned through reading but seen in the practice writing.

I wasn’t just confined to the laboratory during my time in New Zealand. My graduate student encouraged and let me take time off to visit incredible parts of the country. In my first time traveling abroad, I was so excited to see so much and learn about this place on the other side of the world. The other people in the laboratory were not only able to give me advice on a research career and research topics and trouble shooting, but as well as direct me to different sites to see.

Traveling abroad isn’t delegated to those who are able to spend a couple months traveling without any responsibilities. You can pick up experience- tailored to your interests and not just within a program’s confines as UTD works with you to help you get there.

-Amanda Bacon, Independent Study in New Zealand, Summer 2018

As I Travel

Adiva Sahar - Ornamental Traditions   In the summer of 2018, I traveled to Islamabad, Pakistan in order to intern at the emergency room of the Shifa International Hospital. In hindsight, summer was not the best time to travel to a country with a continental climate, for the blistering heat and suffocating humidity made it difficult to fully enjoy the experience. However, the enriching hospital environment and the country’s rich culture made the experience worthwhile.

Interning in the emergency room was a unique experience. The socioeconomic gap in Pakistan is very large, and a major part of the population consists of the lower class, who usually do not have access to education. This became very apparent to me in the hospital setting. Because Shifa is a private hospital, the patients admitted were mainly of the upper class. The few members of the lower class that unknowingly found themselves at Shifa would end up having to refuse treatment because of the high costs. Often, it would be difficult for doctors to communicate the importance of their advice to the uneducated.

Besides my newfound cultural awareness, I also deepened my understanding of international hospital systems. The hospital followed the British system in much of their hospital organization, including the triage system. It was interesting to observe the differences between the American healthcare system and the one Pakistan has adopted.

Outside of the hospital, the streets were rich of Pakistani culture. Islamabad’s street food is delicious, and surprisingly very cheap. I often found myself on the side of the roads snacking on samosas, chaat, and meat rolls. Along with the numerous food stalls, the streets are lined with bazaars. People can be seen bargaining over a variety of items; from shoes to common household items, from jewelry to personal care products. For international tourists, everything already seems pretty cheap, or we don’t know about the culture of bargaining, so we tend to not bother with it. However, it makes you stand out amongst the common crowd if you don’t argue for a cheaper price.

Throughout my stay, I did a lot of shopping. I especially bought cultural items and enjoyed dressing up in traditional clothing. I visited places with historical and cultural significance and beautiful architecture, including the city of Lahore, Pakistan. And I ate a lot of food that I probably shouldn’t have.

By the end of my stay, I realized why study abroad is so important – you completely immerse yourself in a different culture, one that you are not at all accustomed to, and return with a newfound awareness and perspective of the world around you. I know I did.

–  Adiva Sahar, Internship in Pakistan, Summer 2018