Rahel Adebabay

NAME: Rahel Adebabay
MAJOR: Global Studies
PROGRAM: Ireland, SJSU Exchange – University College Dublin
EMAIL: rachel.adebabay@sjsu.edu

BIO: Please tell us about you and why you chose to study abroad.

I am a first-generation Ethiopian-American college student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies and three minors in Philosophy, Legal, and African American Studies at San Jose State University. I want to utilize my educational background to work towards my vision of building a prosperous, united Africa, emphasizing creating strong educational infrastructures.

Through this program, I came intending to gain a new perspective on the world. Traveling to another country and experiencing a non-American curriculum made me decenter from the American political perspective.


CAREER: What skills did you learn/sharpen during your study abroad experience?
Reflect on how your study abroad experience and the skills, knowledge, or networking has enhanced or contributed to your life back on campus or home.

Through decentering from the American perspective, I viewed the world in a much different way. This is especially important as a scholar in the field of International relations because this challenged my political beliefs, worldviews, and personal values. International Affairs cannot be seen from only one perspective, and acquiring added perspective will make me more analytical and critical in nature. In addition, acquiring such attributes and experience will make me an attractive candidate for my future educational pursuits and later professional life.

Because I am just finishing up my term abroad, I have yet to see it being applied to my life on campus. However, I without a doubt believe having an added perspective will make me a much better student in my Global Studies major courses.

GOALS: What were your goals for studying abroad?
Reflect on the personal, academic, and professional goals that you had set out to achieve on your study abroad experience?

Broadly speaking, my goal going into my experience was to be bold and brave. I wanted to try new things and immerse myself in different cultures.However, in retrospect, going into my study abroad experience I had a very uncompromising view of how my life should be during and after my experience. I knew I wanted to graduate within 3 years, take the LSAT in the summer, and do well in all nine classes I was enrolled in during my spring semester. My goals, although achievable, needed to be more flexible and restrictive.


PERSONAL GROWTH: What was the biggest impact that your study abroad experience had on you?(REQUIRED)

Although I initially intended to study abroad solely for academic purposes, I did the opposite. This experience made me realize I must slow down and take in life’s pleasures. This semester was the first time since sixteen that I have not worked. Along with the absence of work or pressures to keep me financially afloat, the workload at my school was significantly smaller than my usual course load, even with nine classes. This gave me the time to get to know myself through solo travel and do activities that I loved and previously did not have the time to attend to. Because of this experience, I’ve become more eager to travel in the not-so-distant future, and I know that my future career should have travel embedded into it. In addition, I realized that I perhaps want to live abroad as I feel the way of life in the United States is not sustainable compared to life in Ireland. Living in Ireland has exposed me to what life should be like, as I’ve never felt so safe, healthy, and happy.

ACADEMICS: How would you describe your academic experience abroad?
Share what courses you chose to take abroad and the strategies you used to ensure your academic success. How has the experience impacted your academics now that you have returned to SJSU?

My academic experience has been frustrating at UCD. Not so much because the content was challenging but because it was much different from what I was used to in the United States. None of my classes had homework or constant learning checkpoints. In addition, with my major being small at SJSU, with an average of 15 students, I was surprised by the hundreds of classmates I had. Because of this, I noticed a culture of not having strong interpersonal relationships with professors. This was very unusual to me as in nearly every class I’ve taken at SJSU, I’ve been in constant contact with my professors and even have developed those relationships beyond the course I’ve taken with them. However, I am very fond of UCD and all that it has to offer; I’ve never felt helpless because of the endless resources the school provides.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: How has your immersion impacted your perspectives on the world?

Apart from my academic life, I did a lot of solo traveling during my time abroad. Since my start, I have been to 7 countries I have never visited. Some I did not know much about prior to traveling there. Not only did I learn and immerse myself in the cultures that I encountered, but I pushed myself to engage with the community at every opportunity I had. I tried new foods, learned about different cultures and customs, made friends with locals, etc. Most importantly, I learned the values of self-sufficiency and independence while also getting to know myself better. Six of the seven countries I’ve visited are not English-speaking countries, and through that experience, I became a more effective communicator and navigator.

FUTURE: How has study abroad prepared you for your future?

The most prominent lessons I’ve learned from in my study abroad experience have been through my solo travels. I exclusively did solo travel as I felt this was fundamental to getting to know myself, and I did precisely that. Solo traveling throughout Europe has made me an effective communicator and navigator. For example, I spent three weeks in Central and Eastern Europe, where people did not know fluent English, and I had to navigate that, whether that was by using context clues, reading facial expressions, or pulling out google translate! In addition, solo traveling in non-English speaking countries has made me comfortable with being uncomfortable. I surrendered expectations and the constant need to stay within what was familiar to me.

TIPS: What advice would you give to a future Global Spartan?
  1. Apply to every scholarship available, no matter how impossible it seems. This was my experience applying to the Benjamin A Gilman International Scholarship. Because I decided to study abroad last minute, there was only one scholarship available to me which happened to be the most prestigious study abroad scholarship. I won the scholarship, although I applied just two hours before its deadline.
  2. Try to make a friend in every country you visit! Understand the local way of life.
  3. Take advantage of your school’s resources.
  4. If you are attending a European university, use a planner/tracker as the curriculum is primarily autonomous learning. Constantly new ways to engage yourself in your academics.
  5. Research the country that you are studying in. Understand lingo/language, customs, and political system. Three months before moving to Ireland and even before I went to a new country, I watched youtube videos that described social do’s/don’ts.
  6. Get to know and use public transportation. Across almost all European countries, transportation is reliable and safe.

Diana Vazquez

Diana Vazquez
NAME: Diana Vazquez
MAJOR: Anthropology
PROGRAM: Germany CSU IP – University of Tubingen
EMAIL: diana.vazquez@sjsu.edu
Prior to attending SJSU, I was a student at Sonoma State University where I studied Computer Science. During my time there I studied abroad in Germany with CSU IP. It was this program and my time abroad that gave me that push to switch majors to something I actually loved doing. Due to the Pandemic, I sadly didn’t get to finish my year program, and was sent home four months early. When I returned home, I transferred to SJSU and switched my major Anthropology, with a concentration in Archaeology. Studying Abroad showed me that I want a career where I can be out in the world exploring and learning about different cultures. I hope to get into a Master’s and PhD program in Europe, where I will hopefully be able to relocate to live there. My time studying abroad definitely gave me a new perspective for the world, and a desire to explore every inch of our planet.
1) GOALS: What were your goals for studying abroad?
When I left for my study abroad program, I had a long list of goals I wanted to achieve along with a broader rule of “exploring and trying new things.” My largest goal was of course to learn German and feel comfortable speaking the language to locals. Most of my goals centered around experiences and locations that I had been looking forward to for years. Such as going to see as many museums and historical sites as possible or finding a TARDIS in London.

2) PERSONAL GROWTH: What was the biggest impact that your study abroad experience had on you?

Despite having already lived independently the three years prior to going abroad, the experience of being in a whole new country and environment pushed me even further to achieving my goals for my own happiness. At the time of my program, I was a Computer Science major, but I was unhappy being so. I remained in that major because so much of my family supported me doing so, but my time abroad gave me the proper push I needed. I realized that despite nearly completing my major, I wouldn’t live a fulfilling life if I didn’t pursue my true passions. Traveling to new countries and visiting so many world-renowned museums reawakened my love of archaeology, so when I came home I decided to aim for a career I would actually love.
3) ACADEMICS: How would you describe your academic experience abroad?

While I didn’t leave Germany fluent in the language, I definitely was comfortable enough speaking it that I could hold a conversation with a local. By the time I left the country, I could easily remember the more difficult of grammar rules. Had my program not been canceled early because of the Pandemic, I would have taken classes at the Uni my second semester there. A typically German class does not assign homework, and is instead based completely on lectures, personal studying, and either a final exam or paper.


4) CAREER: What skills did you learn/sharpen during your study abroad experience?

Prior to going abroad, I had been learning German for about two years, so my main goal for studying abroad was to increase my language proficiency. Being immersed in the language so completely definitely helped me nearly complete that goal. In about three months my language level increased so much!


5) COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: How has your immersion impacted your perspectives on the world?

There are so many stereotypes of Germans that tend to lean towards them being rude and strong tempered. However, my time in Germany showed me that is not the case. Every German I interacted with was very welcoming and considerate. I went into my program with no expectations for Germany other than a beautiful landscape and cold weather. But I left the program realizing that no matter how much I researched the country, I can’t truly know a culture and its people until I actually experience it and immerse myself in said culture.

6) FUTURE: How has study abroad prepared you for your future?

When I initially began learning German, it was initially to be able to feel comfortable speaking the language when I studied abroad. I began university with the goal to study abroad, but not necessarily to learn a new language. However, since learning it I have now found out it will actually be very helpful in the field of archaeology. I unintentionally gave myself a very handy skill by studying abroad! Along the same lines, my time traveling to new cultural landscapes and interacting with people from different countries, has also prepared me for my future career in archaeology.

7) TIPS: What advice would you give to a future Global Spartan?

Research! Any possible little question you could have about the location you will be going to, research it. Whether you are going to a whole new country or simply another State, having some knowledge of the location you will be going to will aid you so much. You could assume that your cultures and customs will be similar, but the truth is you won’t really know until you’re there. Research will be your best friend, both before you leave and when there. Another tip I can give is to make the most of your time abroad. Take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself and allow yourself to grow. Lastly, know your limits, don’t feel pressured to take part in experiences you won’t feel comfortable in. This time is for you to explore the world, do so at your own level. Agreeing to plans you dislike and subsequently missing out on experiences you were looking forward to can end up being stains on an otherwise happy time.

Jeremy Gaviola Quero

Jeremy Quero

Name: Jeremy Quero
Email: jeremy.quero@sjsu.edu
Major: Engineering Technology
Program: Business and Society – Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences – Rotterdam Netherlands
Email: jeremy.quero@sjsu.edu

My name is Jeremy Quero, I am an Engineering Technology focus on Manufacturing Systems and my minor is Business. I’m just another student from SJSU that likes to play video games, listen to music of any genre that is catchy, watch movies and shows specifically anime, and go on adventures. I studied at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences (RUAS) for the spring 2023 semester. Going on the program was definitely an experience that any student should do. I did something out of my comfort zone, I got to understand the culture of the dutch and the many other cultures that were present, and most importantly I got to travel across Europe with the friends I made in Rotterdam. To any student who reads this, Shoot your shot and take a risk because this is something that is bigger than you are and helps you evolve individually as a person.

1) GOALS: What were your goals for studying abroad?
To understand how the culture of Netherlands operate and how to succeed in another country. I wanted to challenge myself by living somewhere whereas I have no prior experience living. To live and to survive on my own. Professionally on taking on the challenges that the Host University gave me and taking it head on and succeeding.
2) PERSONAL GROWTH: What was the biggest impact that your study abroad experience had on you?
I would say the biggest impact it had on my was rediscovering my own culture of not just being an American citizen, but remembering my roots of my people of being a Filipino man. Also living alone and adjusting to the environment to overcome and to succeed. Having an overall different view of how other students from different countries work and apply the positives to my own ethics.
3) ACADEMICS: How would you describe your academic experience abroad?
research and presentations, To ensure success I would take initiative and take action by making the first move and going out in the field to make observations. applying this will give me confidence.
4) CAREER: What skills did you learn/sharpen during your study abroad experience?
The skills I learned and sharpen would be focusness, resiliency, and perseverence. Focusness: since being out here with independency, I would like to have fun and do fun activities with the friends I made out in Rotterdam. That being said when you want to have fun , you have to put in the work. I would make sure I finish every assignment before heading out. Reseliency: with a new environment, theres new school culture and sometime you have to make gold to what’s given to you. There would be times during the program where the students would often feel confused as the professors would not communicate with each other and tend to give us information on the assignments that wouldn’t align. I would ask questions and try to give out the best execution of assignment as I possibly can. Perseverence: With being alone and starting over again in a new society. This made me have to step out my confort zone. I made new friends and it made me take more initiative in and outside of the school. I was able to connect to students all over the world from coming from countries like Germany all the way to Indonesia. This allowed me to explore more cultures other than Dutch culture.
5) COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: How has your immersion impacted your perspectives on the world?
People and universities from different cultures work way different. There is no one way of learning things as different countries have their own way of teaching and living.
6) FUTURE: How has study abroad prepared you for your future?
This prepared me not just in school but in life. How I see things now is different than how I saw things 6 months earlier. Going foward into the future, this tought me to be more independent and gave me more confidence in my school methods. Meeting new people helped me understand that everyone works differently have their own journeys. I personally will challenge myself by taking more risks to become more successful.
7) TIPS: What advice would you give to a future Global Spartan?
Advice I would give to future global spartans would be take initiative and challenge yourself to be not just a better student but a better person overall in their journey of wherever country they go. Don’t be scared of taking risks and to always stay committed to the things they do. These type of opportunities come and go so make the best out of it and have fun!