Fun Times Cut Short

Studying abroad during the semester of the covid-19 pandemic was an eventful experience. Though memories in the making were cut short, I was wholly thankful to get the opportunity to briefly live in the United Kingdom.

During my time at the University of Reading, I have met some of my-now closest friends from orientation week and even from just standing in line waiting to order food. Even though I was chatting with initial strangers from all over the world: Canada, Korea, Italy, Greece, Andorra (small country situated between France and Spain), etc. we instantly clicked. There are many student activities throughout campus, most notably Thursday karaoke nights, where we would all sing our hearts away. London was also only a 20-minute train ride away, giving us an excuse to hop onto that train any second we were free from classes. Though we were all studying different majors and from different countries, the bonds created with these people are something I will treasure.

While in UK, it is impossible to miss their signature weather. Though it was unsurprisingly rainy, I began appreciating the gloomy days throughout the passing months. Situated next to London, a city known for fashion, lots of passersby sported stylish rainy weather attire. I took to my own fashion adventure and happened upon cute boots suitable for the rain– but not specifically rain boots–at Primark, a popular retail store. In my other store favorites i.e., River Island, Zara, Brick Lane Vintage Market, I discovered elegant trench coats, raincoats, pretty much any outer wear that could combat the cold and the rain.

Regarding the train tickets, definitely take advantage of their Railcard pass. For a frequent traveler like me who visited London essentially every weekend, I was able to cut my train ticket price by 1/3 with the pass. University of Reading also hosted trips to Bath, Cardiff, and Stonehenge (though for my year Stonehenge was unfortunately cancelled due to covid-19); however, if you are curious in checking out other cities i.e., Oxford, that Railcard will also save expenses.

Even without the travel, University of Reading does a wonderful job providing active student life on campus. As it has been a year, I cannot remember the specific weekday, but each week the university will screen current movies at a reduced price compared to a typical movie theater price. Personally, I was able to watch The Farewell (and more! Had it not been for covid-19). Every Thursday there would also be a pop-up international market introducing students to new ethnic dishes/ desserts/ produces. Moreover, there were also an on-campus salon, bubble tea shop, grocery store, coffee shop, and probably a lot more had I finished exploring the campus. Oh! One of my personal favorites is the coffee shop–you can print cute coffee art onto your latte for free. It was one of the highlights of my morning.

Living internationally for a short duration awakened a travel bug in me. I was so used to living in my own bubble and getting a glimpse of a world outside my hometown, outside America, got me curious in visiting other countries. These were 3 months well spent abroad and while the pandemic got us recalled and packing bags literally overnight to catch a hastily booked flight the following morning, I would honestly re-live the experience again. Maybe not the end part. But for sure the beginning 3 months.

-Mable Fan, Exchange Program at University of Reading, Spring 2020

A Year Over There

The University of Marburg is situated in the town of Marburg. On the way from the airport at Frankfurt, the first image of the town that I’m greeted with is a picturesque image of an ancient castle situated above the town. The town itself is composed primarily of narrow streets and alleys, the streets are lined by a mixture of old and modern buildings. Through the town runs the river Lahn, the cafeteria and student union is situated right next to the river with a series of steps that lead down to the river itself. The river is perpetually populated by a flock of ducks and a pair of swans.

The university is a mixture of new and old, some buildings are clearly new, modern construction. But there are other structures that are clearly aged and weathered. The buildings are somewhat spread out, nothing like the highly centralized campus that we UTD students have gotten used to: some courses are held up on the same hill as the castle, others are across the river and through a tunnel beneath a highway.

What I mean to say with all of this is: it’s different. You’re taught differently, you learn differently, you experience something new and different. You at first feel confined, perhaps: you don’t have a car, but then you learn the public transit system and feel more free than ever. If you miss city life: you can simply take the train to Frankfurt when your classes end for the day, doing your studies on the train and then eating lunch or dinner in Frankfurt. You don’t need a car, you can take public transit, and everything is in walking distance from the stop. There’s no need to think about parking, or sitting in traffic.

You’re given much more freedom as a student as well. The bulk of my courses were composed of lectures, with little coursework to follow along with them, the grade was to be determined entirely by an examination at the end of the semester. Easy for some, quite a bit more terrorizing for me. Beyond the course material itself, having to figure out how to study and learn under that system felt like one of the most valuable things I’ve picked up.

Your classes are more diverse as well. Courses in the United States are heavily composed of Americans, we share similar worldviews and experiences by dint of having lived in the same country, but in Marburg, it’s different. I had classmates from Kosovo, Macau, France, Italy, and of course Germany, instead of being surrounded by Americans, I routinely found myself being the only one. Being exposed to different viewpoints like that is an extraordinarily valuable experience, especially for an IPE major.

It’s different, and that fundamentally is the most important and valuable thing about studying abroad like this. It shakes us from our complacency and brings into view just how much more there is to discover and learn. Instead of merely studying it from afar and knowing in some vague sense that a different place feels different, going there, living, studying, and experiencing that place puts it into perspective all the big and little things that change, and how that affects people and how it can affect us.

-Joseph Wu, Dual Degree Program at Philipps-Universität Marburg, Spring 2019

Nothing Can Bring Me Down

Verona city picWhat started off as a joke with a friend about eating gelato and pasta everyday soon became an attainable reality as we started a six-week study abroad in Verona, Italy.

As the plane landed at the Frankfurt Airport, I was brimming with excitement. The longest of my flights was now over, and within a few short hours, I’d be in Italy, eating delicious food, exploring cities with centuries of history, and immersing myself in a new and welcoming culture. NOTHING could bring me down.

As we were loaded onto the buses that would take us from the plane to the airport terminal, my friend and I were separated from the rest of the group who managed to get on an earlier wave of buses. A bit irksome, but we’ll just meet back up with them at the gate before the next flight. After several minutes of walking and asking for directions, we finally made it to Customs and Immigration. Just as we were able to finally inch up to the front of the line, the booth closed, and we were directed to join another line instead. Annoying, but we probably still have enough time to make it to the next flight, right? Once we got through customs, we speed-walked our way to security, our group still nowhere in sight. The line moved at a snail’s pace, and as more and more time ticked by, my anxiety continued to build. We were quickly running out of time, and the people in front of us decided to argue with the security personnel about what they had to remove from their bags. Finally through, we sprinted to our gate and between gasping breaths asked whether our flight was still boarding. It was not. We missed it.

Dread set in. While the rest of our group had made it, we were stuck in a foreign airport with no flight and no international phone plan. We were on our own. The worker at the gate could not help us book another flight and instead directed us to the Lufthansa help desk, who also could not help us because of a technicality and instead directed us to the United help desk which was outside of security. Thankfully, they were able to help and arranged for us to get on a later flight to Verona.

After once again going through security and finding the new gate, we could finally sit down and let out a sigh of relief. And yet, a part of me remained worried. After all, if this whole mess could happen within less than 24 hours since I’d left the US, how much more could go wrong in the upcoming six weeks? My confidence faltered for a moment before bolstering again. Perhaps more things would end up going wrong on the trip, but so what? I got through and handled this, and when the next issue comes, I will get through and handle that too.

Now, whenever I’m faced with challenges and unpleasant surprises, I think about my study abroad experience. I think about rebooking a flight in foreign country, about using a combination of charades and offline Google Translate to buy bus tickets, about navigating the maze of canals and alleys of Venice with nothing but a buggy, downloaded map. And I realize: there really is nothing that can bring me down.

-Anna Evers, Non-affiliated Program in Italy, Summer 2019

Observations and Musings about My Time in Europe

ChristianI sit here writing this blog some nine months after the midpoint of my study abroad trip. This last year has given me some time for reflection over the lasting effects of the trip on myself. Certainly the most evident is the assortment of new friends I now possess as several of the blogs of my peers have covered. Hearing from others who have gone through similar programs, I have learned that this is not always the case; I believe the fact that we were all from UT Dallas certainly helped in breaking the ice. Beyond these friendships, academic knowledge, and of course bills the trip has left me with a much more thorough understanding of cultural differences.

I came into Europe with a few nation based stereotypes. Some were confirmed; Italian public transport is in fact as unorganized as claimed. Trains were canceled without warning or future information, connections often required literal sprints to make, subway cars were often overpacked, and a certain bus company’s rides left 3 hours late in one instance, and 20 minutes early the next. In contrast, my view from the cozy front seat on my rescheduled bus ride had full witness of German drivers cutting each other off, slowly cruising in the passing lane and aggressively tailgating each other under the peaceful backdrop of the Alps which quickly shattered any idea of Germany being a haven of safe and efficient drivers.

Beyond any national quirks, however, people generally acted the same as I would expect them to act in the US. Cashiers seemed tired, guards seemed bored, and tour guides expressed great excitement about the art and artifacts they were tasked with explaining. People generally minded their business, but were usually happy to talk when approached by the more gregarious members of our student group. They would converse about the usual topics: where we were from (Texas!), the environment (beautiful), and the weather (unbearably hot).

That is not to say there weren’t major cultural differences, only that they were more subtle. One area that I noted particularly was people’s views on race. Some of this was humorous confusion; there was a general astonishment whenever it was claimed that one of the non-white among us were from from the United States. Another aspect I noted was racism. Border agents would not even glance at my passport, yet harassed the darker skinned student I sat next to. In the Munich airport, the friendly British couple that I was talking with got into a shouting match with a man and his burqa clad wife which were cutting in line, that ended with cries to “go back to their own country”.
Yet, beyond both the confusion and the racism though, there was a greater sense of ethnic and religious distinction than I am accustomed to. For instance, I found it interesting that within Rome the membership of each Islamic prayer hall was almost exclusively divided by ethnicity. This surprised me. While there are ethnic churches and temples in the US, they are more rare, and membership at each religious group is usually drawn on theological lines instead. Similarly, I was surprised that interreligious and interethnic were notable. A speaker at the Mosque of Rome talked with us about the recent phenomenon of immigrants and their children beginning to intermarry with Italians, and the growing pains that entailed. He described how these marriages resulted in a sort of cultural mixing, which recalled the melting pot imagery. I got a sense that the old concept of district identities was starting to break down into a more mixed sense of identity.

That is not to say that there aren’t ethnic churches, or racial identity in the US. There is, but this trip has shown me that there is a different cultural attitude towards the meaning of race and religion than I am accustomed to. I hope to eventually return to Europe someday and get a better grasp of these differences, and how they have shifted in the meantime.

-Christian Duffee, Faculty-led in Italy/Switzerland, Summer 2019

Across History, Culture, and Europe

Brian Doupnik

This past summer, I had the opportunity to go to Northwest Germany and Rome with a program called the Catholic Worldview Fellowship. Over the course of one month, I made some of the best friends I’ve ever had, and grew in so many ways: academically, spiritually, experientially, and in interpersonal and emotional maturity. We had the opportunity to see firsthand – under the tutelage of the fantastic scholars who accompanied our program – extraordinary pieces of art such as “The School of Athens” (and its little known opposing piece, “The Disputation of the Sacrament”), as well as the living, monolithic cathedrals scattered across Europe.

Not only did we visit these landmarks as tourists, however, but as pilgrims and participants in the art. By celebrating the Mass in many of these locations, we were able to see the architecture serving in its intended design functionality. We were also able to connect the places of history in a striking way – for instance, seeing the throne of Charlemagne in Aachen, Germany, and the site of his coronation as Holy Roman Emperor in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Standing on the ruins of the Colosseum was breathtaking.

For three quarters of the program, we were lodged on the grounds of a still privately owned castle. In addition to our daily time in the classroom and our extraordinary fieldtrips, the idyllic fields, paths, and streams were the sites of the forging of deep friendships and bonds that have transcended the distance which separates us half a year later. I will forever remember awaking to the quacking of ducks intruding in through the open window, and lost frisbees that have – by now – flowed down streams, into rivers, and out to the Baltic.

For me, the Fellowship was an experience of thrilling adventure, firsthand encounter with history, and unbreakable bonds of true friendship. It was life changing in the best of ways, and I hope and pray that I may have inspired you to go on your own journey of discovery.

-Brian Doupnik, Non-Affiliated Program in Germany and Italy, Summer 2019

Personal Value in Studying Abroad

People will try to convince you that studying abroad is a great opportunity and that everyone who can study abroad should do their best to do so. While they may give many good reasons to study abroad, everyone’s individual study abroad experiences will be unique. So for me, why was studying abroad a worthwhile experience?

To say that studying abroad was a stretching experience may seem cliché or generic, but for me that truly was its greatest value. I am a creature of habit. I shop at the same store every time I need food, walk the same way to class every day, order the same drink at the coffee shop I always go to to study. I like things to function in predictable ways so I know what to expect. I also like to always have a plan. I like to know where I need to be, what I’ll be doing, for how long, and for what reason. I would not typically characterize myself as extremely outgoing or adventurous. But fortunately for my personal growth, my study abroad experience was usually quite unpredictable and very unplanned.

For instance, several friends and I took a trip one weekend from our dorms in Lugano, Switzerland, down to Venice, Italy, with a stop in Milan along the way. The entire trip was a series of the unexpected and the unpredicted. When we first stopped in Milan, we visited the Galleria and the Cathedral Duomo. As we split into groups to explore, I quickly got separated from my group and had no way to reach them as I did not purchase an international phone plan. It was sheer luck that I happened to run into one of our groups as I wandered around looking for free Wi-Fi. Then, as we headed back to our Airbnb, both members of our group who kept the keys got separated from the group. Then their phones both died. Our group had to wait for hours while they wandered the city eventually finding the correct subway stop and letting us all in. The train heading to Venice was packed so we were standing for most of the ride. Our time in Venice was largely without mishap until the last day when I again got separated from our group and had to guess at which ferries to take in order to reach the train station in time for our departing train. One of the trains on the return trip filled up so we were planning on finding a place to stay in a small Italian country town until we found another train to take. Then finally, we nearly missed our bus back to Switzerland.

At the time, most of the experiences were stressful. Who wants to be lost in a foreign country with no cell service, no way to communicate with the people around, and no idea where you need to go? Why do I say that these experiences were a large reason why my study abroad trip was worthwhile? They forced me out of my comfort zone. They forced me to think in the moment rather then follow a predetermined plan. They made me react to the unpredictable. This taught me two things. It taught me better how to make a plan on the fly and how to react to the unpredictable. More importantly, it taught me that I can function out of my comfort zone. If I could work on the fly in a foreign country, where I didn’t fully understand the language, culture, or city I was in, then I could be very comfortable in the unpredictable at home where I knew the language, culture, and city. Studying abroad was something like me jumping off the deep end and realizing I could swim and then returning to the shallows a confident swimmer.

This may paint a negative picture of studying abroad, and to be fair I am focusing on the worst of the trip. There were many more good experiences than negative ones. My point is that even the negative experiences were incredibly useful to me and contributed to my personal growth. And if even the negative experiences made my trip worthwhile, if the worst parts of the experience were still valuable, then the sum of all the good and bad experiences must be extremely valuable. My study abroad experience was worthwhile in all its aspects, good and bad.

-Coleman Moss, Faculty-led in Italy/Switzerland, Summer 2019

The Hardest Choices Require the Strongest Wills

As a Global Business major, studying abroad was a mandatory requirement that initially was a no-brainer for me. Seeing the world, meeting new people & getting out of Texas was something that I knew would be very enjoyable. It was even better that I was chosen to attend Korea University because my whole family except my dad, mom, and sister live in Korea. So, not only would I be traveling the world, but I would get to spend time with my family at the same time, which is something I cherish since I wasn’t able to spend much time with them in the past because of how far Korea is from the US. However, I will admit that as the departure date crept closer, the doubts began to hit me day by day.

I started to think about the fact that I would have to live life without my friends, Chipotle burritos, and most importantly my dogs. I REALLY did not want to live life without my dogs. The part that stressed me out the most during the study abroad application process was all the recommendation letters, mandatory meetings, and formal documents we needed to collect. It really made me second guess myself and wonder “Do I really want to do this?” I had some thoughts of just changing majors and not studying abroad because I was so busy with actual UTD courses and having to apply for study abroad applications was just extra stress. But, don’t worry, all of these requirements were more than worth it because studying abroad in Seoul was probably the best 6 months of my life.

Robin Kim

Even as a 100% genetically Korean turned US citizen who has lived in Dallas for almost my whole life, I admit to being a bit nervous to leave Texas and live in Seoul for about 6 months by myself. I am Korean in my blood, but since I moved to the US when I was about 3 years old, regrettably my Korean language skills have severely deteriorated throughout my years in Dallas making the thought of attending school in a foreign country a bit overwhelming. The worry was not about being unable to speak the language fluently, because I understand that the English language is basically universal. However, the aspect that made me lose some sleep was the fact that the locals in Korea would probably speak to me in Korean expecting me to understand what they’re saying…because well, I am Korean. But, little did they know that I had been living in the US my whole conscious life, so when they heard me speak, I could see the surprise on their faces of how I was not a local. I eventually got a lot of the language back just by being exposed to it, but I still want to improve on the language because speaking multiple languages is valuable. Everybody on campus speaks English; some are ridiculously fluent, while some can put sentences together with lots of smiles & hand movements. At the end of the day, you’ll be able to have a conversation with someone as long as you are open-minded and patient, because you have to understand that YOU are the foreigner, not them!

Studying abroad was one of the best decisions of my life because I made relationships with life-long friends. Since I am Korean, it did help to go to Seoul because I know I will be able to see these people again in my lifetime. Seriously, I met some really genuine people that I plan on staying in touch with until I am in my grave. You’ll meet people from ALL around the world. I now have a place to stay when I go to Germany, Korea, Japan, Australia, California and even the Netherlands. I made some memories that I can look back on and just laugh about out of nowhere that will last forever.

I 3000% recommend anybody to study abroad. I had some doubts at the beginning, but I am glad I went through with it. You’re probably going to want to give up during the application process, but trust me, it will all be worth it. Well, to be fair, I can’t speak for any other location, so if you go to Korea University, then you will not regret it. You’ll get homesick, but it’ll be okay because remember the hardest choices require the strongest wills.

-Robin Kim, Exchange at Korea University Business School, Fall 2019

Summer Internship in Australia

It was my second semester at The University of Texas at Dallas, and I was presented with an opportunity. The chance to apply for an international internship in Australia. I applied, then came the day of the interview, and like any other person – I was a bit nervous. The interview went well, Shannon and Caitlin are nice people, and are passionate about what they do at HungryHungry. Caitlin is the investment adviser for HungryHungry, and Shannon is one of the founders of the company. I am also thankful to everyone from Education Abroad & Jindal Abroad at UT-Dallas they helped me with any questions I had throughout the application process.

JuanDays later I heard back, I had been offered a position at HungryHungry as a Data Analyst Intern. So, I did what anyone in my position would do, hopped on a plane and headed to Australia. My first day of work went great; we interns were introduced to the team. I met Elizabeth my mentor and also met Caitlin and Shannon in person. I met my fellow intern colleagues, Dillion, Audrey, Remsha, and Fazila. I received a basic introduction to MySQL, Google Analytics, and was shown all the different Data projects I would be working. I learned about HungryHungry’s ambition to grow. It’s part of the company OrderMate, but at the same time, it is aiming to be something different. HungryHungry is a new platform with the goal of reshaping the restaurant and beverage industry. To provide customers a tailored eating experience, whether it is in-venue, takeaway or delivery, and learn of any dietary preferences a customer may have.

The weeks went by, and now as my time at HungryHungry is coming to an end. I realize that this internship helped me grow in ways I could have never imagined possible. I was fully exposed to Microsoft Excel and worked on projects to visualize data into charts and graphs. I also worked with April who is in charge of Finance for OrderMate. I worked on a research project to see possible prospective markets in certain parts of the world. I looked into the different levels of tax implications that came along with that. I was also introduced to sales pitch training with the great Caitlin as our mentor. I had the pleasure to experience an Australian Football game, and I had a great time. Mark, who is one of the founders – is very knowledgeable when it comes to Australian Football. Thanks to him, I was able to follow the game fairly well. Melbourne is city that is very passionate about Australian Football.

My Dad, Juan Sr. has worked in the restaurant/hospitality business since he arrived from Mexico in his early twenties. Time passed, and I too started working in the restaurant industry. Little by little, I started to understand the love my Dad had for the restaurant business. I am glad that I had the opportunity to work for a company that is trying to be an innovator in the restaurant/hospitality industry my dad and I love so much. I am grateful, for never in my wildest dream did I think I would have the opportunity to travel half-way across the world and work for HungryHungry in Australia. I would recommend to anyone that’s pursuing an international internship opportunity, to do your best, and go for it. As my Education Abroad Advisor, Alissa, told me “The experience will more than justify all the visa and international application paperwork” and it did and much more. Traveling is something I’m very passionate about and I can safely say that my summer internship in Australia changed me in more ways than one. I was able to further my growth as a person, I experienced a new culture, and had the opportunity to work in an international setting.

-Juan Mendoza, Internship in Australia, Summer 2019

The Year of Adventure

Yearly Themes
I subscribe to the theory of yearly themes. A yearly theme is a looser and broader New Year’s Resolution that can be used as a guiding force for decisions made throughout the year.

The Year of Adventure
My theme for 2019 was The Year of Adventure. I am nearing the end of my college experience and wanted to focus on gaining new experiences. The Year of Adventure was meant to be a focus on trying things that were unlike anything I’ve ever done before.

Studying Abroad
As part of this search for adventure, I ended up applying to study abroad. Not just study abroad, but I wanted to go to a country that was unlike my previous experiences. This meant no English speaking countries and no Asian countries. I landed on going to Germany. Their culture was different from what I grew up in and the program offered a language course that would help me learn the basics of German.

Making New Friends
One of the greatest parts of studying abroad is the people you meet. For the most part, everyone was happy to meet me and were supportive of my attempts to use German. When my attempts inevitably failed, we usually could fall back on English. This fit in with my Year of Adventure in that I was expanding my social skills by interacting with lots of new people who were very different from my friends back home. They were raised in different states and countries and were interested in very different topics.

US Students
In the beginning, you first meet with other students from the USA. These people come from very different backgrounds than the people I would usually meet in classes. In my computer science courses, I would only meet computer science majors. This typically meant they have a similar background and interests as me. Through the program, I met students who were in different majors like business or political science and vastly different backgrounds than myself.

European Students
After classes started, I had the opportunity to meet and befriend other students. While it was stressful at first, most European students seemed to be interested in talking to American students. The most popular topic was American politics. While it can be hard to approach people when you don’t share a primary language, a lot of the courses were taught in English, so the students were fluent or near fluent in English. I can’t say this is the case for all study abroad programs, but I would assume if courses are offered in English, the student body would be well versed in English.

Taking Courses
The other way I stretched myself was in the courses I took. I took Philosophy of Time and Financial Accounting Around the World. I had never taken a finance course before or a philosophy course, so I was exposing myself to two brand new fields that I was vaguely interested in. The courses were interesting and gave me some insights into how decisions were made and the thought process that many computer scientists would likely follow.
I wouldn’t let the subject matter prevent you from studying abroad. I believe that it is good to take courses outside of your major. Innovation happens when ideas from two different fields meet and create something new.

Experiences are what make us all unique from one another. My entire year of 2019 was dedicated to trying new experiences in order to really help define who I am and what I’ll be doing after college. I won’t say that studying abroad magically changed my life or who I am as a person, but the experience of studying abroad can’t help but contribute to who I am as I person in the long run. Everything we do shapes us, and studying abroad is no different. It is a unique experience that I would encourage any individual to pursue if they have the chance.

-Cooper Le, Exchange at Philipps-Universität Marburg, Spring 2019

University of Reading, Spring 2019

During the spring of 2019, I was thankfully able to study at the University of Reading, which was my first pick when applying for study abroad. The school was located about 30 minutes outside of London so it was as close as I could get to my favorite city, my happy place, and a place I always love to visit. This school was also 40 minutes away from my family who live in London so it allowed me to connect and get to know them better in the six months I was abroad. This experience was definitely full of lifetime memories and something I will always cherish. Looking back, I wish my study abroad experience was longer so that I could create further bonds, go out with friends more, and just create new memories.

Despite the experience being several months ago, many of the friends I made still keep in touch on our various group chats. We check in on each other and also share memories and how much we miss one another. These bonds will always be close to me as we, mostly, all were from different places and did not know what it was like to be so far away from our family, friends, and the way of life we were used to. Because of this, we all become close with each other so that we can push ourselves, often meeting for lunch, forming study groups, to grab a cup of coffee, to go into downtown Reading, or take a trip within England or even other European countries. One of the most memorable trips I had with my new friends that I met while at Reading was about 30 minutes away, to Oxford, England. My Friend Theodora, Will, and I all took the trip one of the first weekends of being abroad as we wanted to see Oxford University and the city. We ended up taking a tour of the ancient castle and jail within the city, which also doubled as a background to the city. While there, we were selected to participate in the animated stories which created laughter and memories we still talk about. We also took a group picture of a “mug shot” with a silly crime that kids were often locked up in this jail for, ours was stealing a snuff box. We ended up buying this picture so we each could have it and look back at the fun, which was a great decoration for my apartment.

Oxford Castle and Prison

While on this trip, we also had an authentic British meal, meat pies, at a pub. While this wasn’t my first time having this, it was theirs and it was cool to bond and talk about how we enjoyed the day exploring a new place. While studying abroad, I also took advantage of the close airports and visited numerous countries within Europe, exploring where many of my ancestors grew up and many places I have learned and seen pictures of but never have been to myself.

Studying abroad was a dream of mine since freshman year in high school and I never thought it was possible. Despite being nervous about moving so far, adjusting, and the logistics of being gone for so long, I can say this was the best experience I have ever had. I am forever thankful for the lifelong memories that were created and the irreplaceable bonds I now have with the people I studied with. The decision to study abroad was the best I have ever made, and I will always encourage others to take advantage of this opportunity.

-Cameron Carr, Exchange at University of Reading, Spring 2019

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