Hratch Momjian

MAJOR: Mechanical Engineering
PROGRAM: SJSU Exchange – Kyushu University – Fukuoka, Japan
EMAIL: hratch.momjian@sjsu.edu

BIO: My name is Hratch Momjian and I am currently a 3rd year mechanical engineering major at SJSU. I’m a first generation Armenian-American, who always liked sharing my cultural differences with others. Furthermore, I also really enjoy talking to people with all kinds of different backgrounds and cultural experiences. If I speak to someone with an English accent I typically ask where they’re from because I enjoy hearing their stories and how they got to their current situation. Because of this, I really wanted to go and study abroad as I would be in a place where I am surrounded by people who have lived completely different lives from me.

GOALS: My goals when studying abroad were to make friends, study in a different environment and, most importantly, step outside of my comfort zone. Throughout my life I have stayed within my comfort zone where I feel best in and would always feel uneasy if I had to do something outside of it. Studying abroad would definitely throw me way outside of my comfort zone and force me to become a much more adaptable person. Being adaptable in any situation helps in networking and general problem solving. Being able to stay calm and collected during a rough time, whether that be in school, work or personal life, allows me to execute what I would like to do most effectively.

PERSONAL GROWTH: I think there are two ways that I grew as a person: self-sufficiency and sociability. Before going abroad I felt as if I was never a sociable person. I never was really able to connect with people who I was not already friends with. Most of my friends at home were also people who were similar to me and talking with them would be much easier. However, after going abroad I think my sociability has improved greatly. I feel much more confident to go out and actually speak with people who are not like me. My self-sufficiency has also improved as I no longer feel that I always need to be surrounded by people to be happy. Before coming to Japan, going outside and doing things alone was never an option. I would always ask friends if they wanted to go with me and if they didn’t say yes, I would simply not go out. However, I now feel much better about doing things I want to do even if I don’t have anyone accompanying me.

ACADEMICS: How would you describe your academic experience abroad? I took seven upper division engineering courses which made my academic experience quite difficult. However, I don’t believe that it was because the courses themselves were difficult but the method of studying was different to ours at SJSU. In Japan, the professor did a lot more of lecturing than actually giving out and reviewing homework assignments. Furthermore, they had an expectation that the students would not only study the given material but also do self studying on their own. Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it was just a different way of doing it. The students are on their own much more. When coming back to SJSU I feel much better about studying on my own now as before I would just rely on the professor to give out the assignment and teach. I am more self-reliant than before thus making me more confident to do well in a class where the professor might not be the best.

CAREER: What skills did you learn / sharpen during your study abroad experience? I think I definitely sharpened my ability to connect with people that I had never met before and are completely different from me. When you go out and try to get jobs, you are inevitably going to be talking with people who are nothing like you. Having the ability to connect and positively impact each other has proven to be a great skill to have as other people will enjoy being around you. Going abroad sharpened this skill for me and made me feel much more confident going into job interviews and making a better first impression which will lead to a higher success rate of landing jobs.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: How has your immersion impacted your perspectives on the world? After going abroad I think I am much more appreciative of what my parents have done to get my family and I to comfortably live in America. Hearing the stories of other exchange students and international students, I understand how lucky I am that I grew up in America without needing to move back and forth between different places. A lot of the other students ended up studying in multiple different international schools in different countries, moving two or three times in their lives. I don’t think I ever really understood how difficult that makes life for them: making lifelong friends is harder, opening up to others is harder and simply getting comfortable is harder.

FUTURE: How has study abroad prepared you for your future? Studying abroad has prepared me for the future by enhancing my social skills. I believe that I am much more comfortable with speaking to new people who have immensely different backgrounds compared to me. When I am going to be in job interviews, the interviewers are going to be people who are not my age nor have any of the life experiences that I would be able to relate to. However, after going abroad I feel like I will be able to relate and connect with these people much more easily thus helping me land more jobs. Everyone I speak to in my life is not going to be friends that have done the same things I’ve done, eaten the same things I’ve eaten, played the same games I have and after going abroad, conversing with these people will no longer be a problem for me.

TIPS: What advice would you give to future Global Spartans? I would say: “Don’t hole up in your room. You don’t get this opportunity often so I don’t think it would be smart to hole up and not do anything when you have all these options and chances to do so many different things. Try and make new friends there, and try not to rely on your friends at home for social communication. If you are staying for a semester or two, having friends abroad will make your life more interesting and fun while you’re away, all while keeping you from feeling any sense of loneliness. Having people to hang out with makes you forget about home and helps get you through those days where you miss home and want to go back, which I assure happens to everyone. Furthermore these friends that you make abroad will be awesome people to know especially if you decide to come back and visit again. Lastly, making friends builds your communication and social skills that will help you in the future with job applications and career events. Go out there and have some fun! Don’t hold back!”

Janette Albor Hernandez

MAJOR: Business Administration/Finance
PROGRAM: SJSU Exchange – Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
EMAIL: janette.alborhernandez@sjsu.edu

BIO: Hello my name is Janette. I was born and raised in Santa Rosa, California. I transferred to SJSU in the Fall of 2022 from Santa Rosa Community College. I am a fourth year Finance major graduating in the Fall of 2024. I always wanted to study abroad since high school but due to unforeseen circumstances and then recently Covid-19, my trip was always canceled. After transferring to SJSU I attended an information session and knew I had to apply. I decided to study abroad to immerse myself in a new culture, learn a new language, travel, gain new opportunities and also make lifelong friends.

GOALS: Personal- I wanted to become more independent, not be afraid to try new things and gain confidence for personal development. I also wanted to develop an understanding of diverse cultures and make friends. Academic – I wanted to gain new knowledge, explore new perspectives and methodologies when learning about how business works in a different country. Professional – I wanted to build international friendships by networking which can lead to future career opportunities. I also wanted to gain new skills such as working effectively in diverse teams which are essential for success in globalized industries and professions.

PERSONAL GROWTH: I think the biggest impact that my study abroad experience had on me was definitely gaining independence and self discovery. Being away from home going to a country where English is not spoken as much challenged me in many ways. I definitely stepped out of my comfort zone by trying new things. I even went solo traveling to other countries which is something I never would have done before. I became more free spirited and my confidence grew.

ACADEMICS: How would you describe your academic experience abroad? I ended up taking three courses abroad. Quantitative Business Analysis Financial Intermediaries International Financial Management Some strategies that I used were to manage my time wisely by having a planner. Classes were once a week for three hours so I took one class a day. I had more time to study and do my assignments while still having time to explore and engage in cultural activities. I also formed a study group for each class and we would go over notes/homework and study together. Coming back to SJSU, I did have to readjust my schedule to going to class twice a week for each class instead of once a week. I also had to go back to my old study routine to focus on turning in assignments more frequently.

CAREER: What skills did you learn / sharpen during your study abroad experience? The skills that I learned/sharpened during my study abroad experience are: Intercultural communication and Thai language: I was exposed to diverse cultures and different languages that helped me enhance my ability to communicate effectively with people from different backgrounds. I did make an effort to learn Thai during my exchange program by watching and listening to Thai dramas and songs. I also practiced a lot with Thai students. While I am still a beginner I still tried my best to speak Thai when ordering food, asking for directions and when trying to make small talk. Cultural awareness: At first I did not know a lot about Thailand. My cultural awareness increased immensely. It was a learning experience. I learned how to cook a few traditional Thai recipes in Chiang Mai, I participated while learning about important holidays and I visited famous landmarks such as a few sacred temples to learn more about the history of Thailand. I also had the opportunity to travel to other countries in Asia as well to experience the differences in cultures. Adaptability: After arriving I was very home sick and overwhelmed at the same time. It was all so new and different, but after some time I was able to adapt to the change, navigate in this unfamiliar environment, to their customs and lifestyle. Adapting to living in a new and different country helped me overcome challenges that I faced. Now I feel prepared to adapt to changes when going to different countries. Independence/Responsibility: Going abroad really made me more independent and take on more responsibility. At home in some situations when I had a problem I would rely on my family but I learned to work through my problems and create solutions independently. It helped build my confidence and made me take responsibility over my own decisions. Networking: While my classes had mostly Thai students there were a few other exchange students from different countries. I had the pleasure of meeting students from France, Switzerland, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Netherlands and many more. During our exchange program we were part of Chulalongkorn’s International Department (aka Int Dept) where they offered many events to get to know each other and it was amazing to learn more about their cultures and lifestyles. It was truly an awesome experience to have friends all around the world that I still continue to keep in touch with.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: How has your immersion impacted your perspectives on the world? My immersion has definitely changed the way I view the world. I now have different perspectives for new ways of living, thinking and solving problems. Also I had never realized before just how huge the world actually is. I have only been to Mexico and a few other states but prior to studying abroad I had never traveled anywhere else before. There are many cultures to learn about and I hope I get the chance to explore more.

FUTURE: How has study abroad prepared you for your future? Studying abroad has prepared me for my future by providing me with new valuable skills, experiences and new perspectives. I now have the confidence to navigate in a new diverse world. I believe I can do more on my own and am more open to trying new things. I also found out that I can also be happy with my own company and not depend on others to have fun.

TIPS: What advice would you give to future Global Spartans? Start planning early. Attend an information session and don’t be afraid to ask all your questions. Be prepared by doing some research to know more about where you are going to be studying and living. Learn about the different options for accommodations and transportation. Learn more about the foreign currency and the different payment methods that are accepted. Pack accordingly depending on the climate. Be open minded and not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new things. Don’t be afraid to go exploring by yourself. If you want to do something do it because you might regret it if you don’t. Create a budget to help organize your expenses. Document everything by taking pictures, making vlogs or even journaling your experiences. If you have the chance to travel to other cities or countries, do it! Have fun but also give your body and mind time to rest. 🙂

Sadia Bates

MAJOR: Business Administration/Management
PROGRAM: SJSU Exchange – Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), Winterthur, Switzerland
EMAIL: sadia.bates@sjsu.edu

BIO: Hey! My name is Sadia Bates. I am from San Jose and I am a third year business management student at SJSU. I recently got to fulfill a dream of mine; traveling abroad for school. I spent six months in Switzerland living my best life making friends, traveling, and of course going to school. I am looking forward to sharing my experiences and helping out fellow students who want to go abroad.

GOALS: I accomplished many goals having left from my time abroad. I was able to make many friends who I am still in contact with today. I experienced a different application of academic learning, I gained a wealth of professional knowledge from professors.

PERSONAL GROWTH: During my time abroad I pushed myself to make friends and learn from them. I was able to travel to different countries with many of the friends that I had made and that was the most exciting part of my time. The people I met had the biggest impact on me, growing my intercultural communication while having the time of my life.

ACADEMICS: How would you describe your academic experience abroad? In Switzerland I took only business courses and the format of the courses threw me for a loop. I was not used to of the gravity of the finals in addition to the lack of homework. At ZHAW, they do not evaluate your progress throughout the course. An adjustment compared to SJSU, which I now have more of an appreciation for our academics.

CAREER: What skills did you learn / sharpen during your study abroad experience? Many of the courses I took abroad have developed my business skills. I participated in several projects that focused on different areas of business like marketing, negotiation, supply chain, ethics, and management. Not only have these projects developed my interest and skill level but also my experience. I now have the option to add these projects to my resume to enhance my opportunities in career goals. In addition I have gained experience in working in an international setting with people from many cultures, this experience will prove helpful in my future career exemplifying my understanding of intercultural communication.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: How has your immersion impacted your perspectives on the world? Arriving home there was an adjustment that I went through and still go through today. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized how different Swiss life is compared to life in the Bay Area. I notice people are always on their phones, there is not the same level of respect for others and their surroundings, and it’s not as safe. I take life lessons I learned from Switzerland to heart, moving effectively, being more forgiving and helpful to those in my community, among other things.

FUTURE: How has study abroad prepared you for your future? Like I mentioned earlier, my time abroad has definitely enhanced my resume and my business toolbox. I gained many skills on a global level that I wouldn’t have otherwise. For instance, intercultural communication, adaptability, international experience, and self-awareness.

TIPS: What advice would you give to future Global Spartans? I would tell future Global Spartans to go for it. The application process and booking/accommodation hunting will be challenging but it will all be worth it in the end. I would also advise them not to set expectations and to stay open, they will have fun no matter what so I suggest they go in with a clear mind and go with the flow. Take advantage of opportunities that are laid before you even if it’s a decision made in a short time.

Emily Benson

MAJOR: Justice Studies/Criminology
PROGRAM: ISEP Direct – American College of Thessaloniki, Greece
EMAIL: emily.benson@sjsu.edu

BIO: Hello, I am Emily Benson. I am currently a junior at San Jose State, majoring in Criminology. I am a hard-working individual who is passionate about community involvement. I have spent many years volunteering for my local Police Department in San Diego, holding a variety of leadership positions involving myself and philanthropic work. I wanted to study abroad to expand my experiences, meet new people, learn about a different culture, and develop my global citizen awareness. I have wanted to study abroad in Greece since I was a freshman in high school and knew that I would experience studying abroad in college.

GOALS: The main goal I wanted to achieve in studying abroad was to immerse myself as much as I could in the daily life of a Greek citizen in the 3 1/2 months I spent in Thessaloniki, Greece. Studying at the American College of Thessaloniki(ACT) has been described as taking the road less traveled, being that it is a smaller city in northern Greece and is not the typical destination of metropolitan Athens. Although many people would choose to study in Athens, the largest city in Greece, my goal was to live and experience life in a smaller town rather than a tourist destination. Studying at ACT gave me that opportunity. I lived in an apartment right in the heart of town with local residents in the building and had firsthand experience with the local culture every day. Academically, I wanted to maintain high standings with my home and abroad university. I wanted to expand my knowledge of the region that I was in. I sought out community involvement through my academics. It was important to me that I fully immerse myself in Greek culture, and I did this by taking 10 hours of Greek language and culture a week. I wanted not to be a tourist but rather a guest in the country I was studying in. I felt as though I achieved this goal substantially and fully spoke, ordered, and communicated in Greek while I was there. I took an intensive conversational Greek language class which helped me excel and learn a language. I learned so much about the Greek language and culture and felt very connected to the community. Greek culture and language are all around us in America, so many of our words originate from Greek origin. Professionally, I wanted to network and meet people from all different walks of life. I was able to work with a diverse group of people from all over Europe in my classes, and also in an internship I had while in Greece.

PERSONAL GROWTH: The biggest impact my study abroad experience had on me was my understanding of the world. My time in Greece was truly transformative. This experience is something I will treasure forever. Being immersed in another country and society is something I needed to experience. I have felt a tremendous amount of personal growth in my short time here. I have truly learned so many valuable lessons and insights. Learning about Greek history, society, and culture my international compass has expanded greatly. I have learned the importance of living a fulfilling life in my short time here. In Greek culture and most cultures in Europe, your leisure is prioritized. Specific hours are set aside each day for rest and family time. You work, but you also rest, which creates a happy, healthy community and family life. This is something I have never experienced. In America, our society and big corporations work you to the max. Working 12-hour days with little to no breaks. If you’re afforded a break, it will be an hour for lunch. Our society does not incorporate leisure into the weekdays. Even on the weekends, many are still working and do not get to fully enjoy their leisure. I appreciate how Greeks care for the well-being of their society members. Being immersed in a culture that isn’t controlled by the clock is such a privilege. The clock is not the master, is something my Greek professor said to me that I will always remember. The clock is used to control my life with deadlines, time commitments, and time-sensitive things. I have acknowledged how less stressed I am now that I am no longer a victim of the clock. I think the reason the stress levels are so high in America is the pressure of not having enough time and the amount of stress put on us by society to get everything done in a certain amount of time, which is often very unrealistic. I find myself enjoying my days to a greater extent and being present. My overall takeaway is that I have become for the present and now prioritize my leisure. I have never felt more present in my mind, body, or soul ever before in my life. I don’t feel a sense of urgency to get everything done in one day and stress about future events. I enjoy and express profound gratitude for every peaceful day I was granted in Greece. Being present is so important. I have struggled with living in my mind rather than living in the present. Living in Greece has strengthened my ability to be present every day and express more mindfulness. I feel much happier and calm as I appreciate being present. I find my stress and anxiety decreasing as I am not so fixated on the future and future events and things that are not under my control. This skill is something I will never unlearn and something I will take with me forever to apply to my everyday life.

ACADEMICS: How would you describe your academic experience abroad? My academic journey at the American College of Thessaloniki was exquisite. I selected courses that were diverse from my normal class schedule. I chose courses that were unique to the American College of Thessaloniki. I was fortunate enough to take a Greek language class, a Greek culture class, a sea sailing course, a politics course, and an internship course. I had fantastic professors abroad. I took my Greek courses from a local Greek woman filled with knowledge and experience. She changed the trajectory of my academic journey at ACT as she made all of the American students feel so connected with Greek culture and tied together the similarities in both American and Greek communities. One of my favorite classes at ACT was the introduction to sea sailing from a Greek professor who had a profound knowledge of sailing. This class was taught in a local marina near my campus, and it was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. We worked together and demonstrated the art of sailing through a new language, a new skill- set, and hands-on experience. Every professor at ACT deepened my understanding of a variety of topics from a new perspective. The structure of the courses is very similar to a course taken at San Jose State University but feels less intense. The classes are smaller, which allows students to get more one-on-one time with the professor, which I felt was very effective. The professors incorporated many breaks and prioritized our well-being during learning, which was very effective in my academic journey in Greece. I completed my semester with over a 3.8 GPA and did not fall behind in any course abroad. I prioritize my course load with traveling and was sure to consistently work hard, after all it is called STUDYING abroad!

CAREER: What skills did you learn / sharpen during your study abroad experience? The most formative change in my 20 years of life has come from my study abroad experience. I developed a new skill set and sharpened my interpersonal and networking skills while abroad. Everything I knew about living in America was flipped upside down and then flipped over once again from the language, the time zone, the customs, and the quality of life. The biggest skill that was built was my ability to learn and apply a new language and alphabet. This is the third language that I’ve learned and by far the most challenging. I learn to deal with the change and communicate with locals. This came with being flexible and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. When I would speak to locals, my pronunciation was off and I pushed myself to refrain from speaking English and strengthen my Greek speaking skills. I was able to relate to people from different backgrounds. My classes were full of people from all over Europe, and it was fascinating to hear other students’ perspectives, and listen to them speak from experience from their countries. Through the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP), I applied and was selected for a content Creator position. I was tasked with compiling pictures and videos of my everyday life in Thessaloniki and capturing my lifestyle of myself and friends. I love this position so much and knew I wanted to continue this working experience at home. I have an eye for photography in this position to help me strengthen my skill set and give me the opportunity to form a connection with employees at ISEP. I made connections with my professors and boss at my internship that I will forever maintain. The boss at my internship offered me to continue helping her while I’m in America. I am in communication with her and lucky enough to form an active networking connection.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: How has your immersion impacted your perspectives on the world? I was granted the opportunity to hold an internship position through ACT. The organization that I intern for is called NAOMI, a non-profit organization that specializes in Ecumenical Workshops for Refugees in Thessaloniki. After the Syrian war, thousands of people flooded through Greece. Many refugees have traveled back to their home country or sought out a home in other parts of Europe, but many refugees live here in Thessaloniki today. Naomi wants the refugees to become acclimated to Greek culture and language, their goal is to support refugees and provide peace for all. By doing this, they have workshops that entail refugee learning, basic Greek, learning how to use specific machines(like sewing machines), And practice with soft skills, ECT. Prior to this internship, I didn’t realize what a problem refugees were in Europe, specifically in Greece. Naomi comprises two parts: the production part and the social justice part. The production part of the organization focuses on sustainability. The second part of Naomi is the social justice department. This department focuses on rights and job equality for all refugees who are not afforded the same rights as citizens. The part that I intern for in Naomi is the social justice side. I work with the head of the social justice department with designated tasks, such as looking over newsletters that were once in Germany, translated to English and needed a proofread, taking photos of the refugees, workshops, and events, and crafting the newsletter for this upcoming month. I have gained experience with preparing a Newsletter on Naomi’s current events and textile department. The work I have done at this job has given me a sense of responsibility. I haven’t had a job or position where I felt like I was actively making a significant change. The skill set I now possess is something I will take with me forever. This internship opportunity has given me valuable skills that I will never unlearn. I haven’t worked in an office-like setting, and this gave me experience with great responsibility. Some of my key takeaways don’t only come from the work that I have done but also from the work ethic that I have seen in this community. Being an intern at this organization has forever shifted my perspective on life. I have been fortunate enough to be a part of an organization that does so much for the community. The knowledge and experience I have gained from this community will forever resonate with me and significantly depend on my international community involvement. I now have a burning passion for international work, and think this is something I will continue to do throughout my life.

FUTURE: How has study abroad prepared you for your future? My Study Abroad experience has shaped my worldly perspective and prepared me to think about things from a different perspective. This perspective change will help not only me personally but professionally in the future. In my early 20s, I have seen the world. I have experienced several cultures and am open to so many new experiences. Life experience shapes who you are as a human being. I was granted a variety of experiences in all of Europe that altered who I am today.

TIPS: What advice would you give to future Global Spartans? I would tell future global spartans to be open-minded and open to learning new things about the culture, even when it’s challenging. Be prepared to use the local currency, phone, and transportation system. Be aware of the differences, but also learn to cherish them. English is widely spoken in some countries, but take the opportunity to learn the community’s language and don’t be afraid to use it. In Greece, the locals were so thankful and appreciative that we took the time to learn their language and apply it in our daily lives. Do absolutely everything! Go to the city’s landmarks and learn about the city, history, and heritage. Take advantage of the chance to travel through your host country and other surrounding countries. You will learn so much on those trips and through the people you meet. I am the biggest advocate of telling everyone in my life that they need to study abroad. I wish I could convince every college student to go abroad and be immersed in another culture in such a formative part of their college years.

Landon Krivanec

MAJOR: Mechanical Engineering
PROGRAM: SJSU Exchange – RMIT University, Australia
EMAIL: landon.krivanec@sjsu.edu

BIO: My name is Landon Krivanec and I am a third-year mechanical engineering major and an engineering management minor. During my time at San Jose State University, I have become involved in many organizations of all types including but not limited to Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity, BAJA Racing Club, and the Pi Tau Sigma Mechanical Engineering Honors Society. However, despite these quality experiences, I knew I would not be satisfied with my college experience if I did not study abroad. Being born in Sacramento, California, and then choosing to go to University in San Jose, California gave me a very limited view of what the world has to offer. While I do love California, I knew there was much more to experience in other parts of the world. I chose to study abroad in Australia because of many reasons, but if I had to limit it to two, I wanted to go to Australia because of the amazing surf and wild nature. Australia exceeded my expectations in both categories and gave me moments I will remember for the rest of my life. I studied abroad in hopes of an adventure and to grow as a person, and I was able to achieve both and more in only 5 months.

GOALS: My goals for studying abroad were to see as much of Australia’s nature as possible and to have friends from all over the world. Australia’s nature is breathtaking and unique to the rest of the world. Any spare time I had I was either on a trip or planning my next trip. Meeting people from different parts of the world was one of the most exciting parts of living abroad. Each person had a lot to share about their experiences and what life was like for them back home. Each person I met gave me a new opportunity to learn more about the world.

PERSONAL GROWTH: The biggest impact studying abroad had on me was the understanding that there are many different ways to live a successful life. In my opinion, the U.S. is very career-oriented in terms of what we do and focus on in our day-to-day lives. However, it was very refreshing to see that life in different parts of Australia is more community and interest-based. My Australian friends described the difference as: “Americans live to work, but we work to live.” This idea has stuck with me since I was in Australia and has become something I want to implement into my life. I enjoy what I am studying, and I spend the majority of my time creating opportunities for my career. However, I have a lot of other hobbies and interests that often get overlooked because of this. Since coming back from Australia, I have continued to live a more balanced life that fulfills my need to work but also invest more time into my community and my other interests.

ACADEMICS: How would you describe your academic experience abroad? I took a lighter coursework load while I was abroad to ensure I had time to enjoy living in Australia. To be able to do this, I increased my workload the semester before and after my study abroad semester. After my study abroad semester, I feel refreshed and have a new desire to learn that has made me look forward to class time.

CAREER: What skills did you learn / sharpen during your study abroad experience? The most valuable skill I learned while studying abroad is how to collaborate and work with others from different backgrounds. I continued my mechanical engineering studies at RMIT University and the majority of my assignments were project oriented. Working with international students from Singapore, Germany, the Netherlands, and Australia all at the same time is where I truly learned the value of communication. This is a skill I continue to use in my academics at San Jose State University and will use in the industry. Another valuable experience that came from studying abroad is being exposed to different ways of doing everyday tasks. I saw this in both my schoolwork and daily life. One of the biggest differences between the U.S. and Australia is Australia’s use and integration of public transportation. A large majority of workers used the trams and trains for their daily commute into the city, saving time and money. This showed me the value of public transportation and inspired me to utilize our public transportation system in the Bay Area,

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: How has your immersion impacted your perspectives on the world? Living on another continent significantly changed my perspective on the world. Before I left for a semester abroad, I felt immersed in California. However, I was unaware of the ecosystem that is our world and how events in one area can create a chain reaction globally. Living outside of the United States gave me a better understanding of the different geopolitical environments in the world and how each has different effects.

FUTURE: How has study abroad prepared you for your future? Studying abroad has exposed me to many different opportunities in life. These opportunities help me understand the different paths I can take and what the possible outcomes could be. This helps give my life a better sense of direction. Understanding the different opportunities in life helps me find what I want to do and how I can get there.

TIPS: What advice would you give to future Global Spartans? For a future Global Spartan, I would recommend studying abroad more than once! There are so many study abroad programs to choose from which makes it easy to find one that is right for you. You should take advantage of the chance to live in a different country as often as possible while studying.

Katera Perry

MAJOR: Psychology
PROGRAM: SJSU Exchange – Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea
EMAIL: katera.perry@sjsu.edu

BIO: I am a 4th-year psychology major looking to get a justice studies minor. I am also a first-generation college student. I am the type of person who loves to help others and go after my goals in life.The reason I chose to study abroad was because I wanted to to turn my dreams into reality. I wanted to travel so I could experience the world through different lenses and become more educated about the various cultures worldwide. When you step out of your comfort zone and embrace different experiences you open up a lot of new things about yourself. Studying abroad not only fulfilled a childhood dream but it tested my comfort zone. Before studying abroad I had never been out of the country, let alone by myself. I was able to prove to myself I could do whatever I set my mind to and have a good time doing it. All it takes is some support and trust!

GOALS: I kept myself open to any experience Korea had in store for me while also planning goals to achieve. My most important goal while studying abroad was expanding my knowledge of cultural awareness beyond my American experience. As a psychology major, I find it extremely important to be open-minded when it comes to helping those who are from a different culture than mine, so I took classes like Understanding Asian Culture and Cultural Psychology. I took these classes so I could develop a better understanding of the differences between Asian and Western societies whether it was through their education system, word origins, traditions, etc. Another goal of mine was to look into job opportunities in psychology abroad. While abroad I got connected with a church and learned of their therapy clinic for foreigners, and I was also able to look into other therapy clinics for foreigners in Korea. I have been interested in finding jobs outside of the US so it was a relief when I found these opportunities. With that being said I reached my goals and even found new ones along the way like narrowing down what career path I want to take. For example, I decided I wanted to help other foreigners who are stepping out of their home countries and into unfamiliar territory. I experienced various emotions while abroad whether they were good or bad, and I want to help others through these experiences. Thus, my experience abroad widened my perspectives on my goals and gave me new motivations in my education and career.

PERSONAL GROWTH: The biggest impact studying abroad had on me was growth in my self-assurance in my interactions with others and with my decisions. As stated before, I overcame my limits like fear of getting lost, being alone in a foreign country, and making the wrong decisions. However, by making new connections and everlasting experiences I actively saw myself becoming a better person, proved to myself that I could overcome my limits, and go on life-changing journeys. I also grew in how I managed my free time, which in the long run is extremely important for career building and self-growth. For example, because I learned how to manage my time I was able to focus on self-care more like journaling and getting connected to my religious side again. When reflecting on my time abroad I have seen how much my habits have changed and how I fill my day with more purposeful activity, which is the best growth seen in myself.

ACADEMICS: How would you describe your academic experience abroad? The education system in Korea is not too different from studying in the US, but some things that stood out to me were that their education system is hugely based on tests rather than homework and the emphasis on attendance. I took three courses at Sungkyunkwan University: Culture Psychology, Understanding Asian Culture, and Elementary Korean. These courses were taught in English and met twice a week for a lecture. Because there was little to no homework I had to keep myself focused on studying weekly for future exams. My strategies to stay focused were attending study groups and keeping myself accountable when I did not meet my weekly studying quota. The most important factor in success in academics in Korea is attendance especially since most lecture slides will not have all the information needed for exams. I also took one asynchronous course at SJSU which was Imagery of Psychology. As mentioned before keeping myself accountable was important especially since this class did have many writing and homework assignments due every week. Moving forward, since I was taking Understanding Asian Culture; I learned about the school system in Korea on a deeper level not just concerning their academics but also the community within the school system. It was great to be fully immersed in how students in Korea interact with one another and participate in after-school activities. Going to school abroad taught me better discipline and accountability which is something I have carried with me into my studies at SJSU.

CAREER: What skills did you learn / sharpen during your study abroad experience? While studying abroad I learned many about my capabilities and limitations. For example, while abroad I was able to better my understanding of how communication differs between the United States and South Korea. Since I had to learn a new language I was also able to see the importance of eyes, mouth, and head movement and how much of a difference it makes while communicating with those around me. While abroad I also grew in learning how to trust myself. For example, while in Korea I had to take public transportation a few times on my own and I was fearful I’d get lost. But luckily over time, I grew to trust myself and my navigation skills grew as I stayed longer and pushed past my limits. Other skills that I gained include intercultural skills, adaptability, and problem-solving. Going abroad put me through unique experiences that I am grateful to have experienced have helped me become a well-rounded person, and has offered me the skills to navigate through my future career endeavors.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: How has your immersion impacted your perspectives on the world? As mentioned before I have always had a passion for travel and connecting with those around me. To be fully immersed in another country and learn about their culture was truly an impactful experience. I met various people of different backgrounds and cultures and listened to their stories. Their stories were filled with familiar experiences and new ones that I’m glad to have heard. I was only in Korea for four months but I have made lifelong friends I am grateful for. Who would have thought girls from various regions would have so much in common and yet so much more to learn from one another? I always believed the world was filled with beautiful places, people, and stories but actively living in the beauty is a whole other experience on its own. It is also important to note that not all of my experiences were good, but as I experienced some loneliness and uncertainty it was helpful to know I wasn’t alone. My new friends reminded me that it is ok to go through the bad and at the end of the day we are all human and our bad days make us stronger. My journey deepened my understanding of the interconnectedness of the world. I will carry my newfound knowledge and perspectives of the world and let it motivate my purposes in life.

FUTURE: How has study abroad prepared you for your future? Studying abroad taught me various life lessons such as money management, time management, discipline, and self-confidence just to name a few. All these skills are the key to success when entering any professional environment and planning for one’s future. I believe without my abroad experience I would not have learned these lessons as fast as I did. When reflecting on my experience I have seen areas where I have matured and where my skills shine the most. This experience has also taught me how to take charge and navigate through various situations. I am more prepared to problem solve in the real world and take on challenges. Like I said before I have seen how the lessons abroad positively impacted my day-to-day life. I am more aware of where I want my future to go and intend to use every opportunity I have ahead of me to better my future.

TIPS: What advice would you give to future Global Spartans? My advice is clique but is true nonetheless: You only live once. This is the time to take chances and make mistakes, because what other time than now? If you are scared to go abroad that does not mean it is a sign not to go, it is a sign that you care. When you step over the hurdle of applying take that excitement and run with it. Whether you get accepted into your desired program or not; do not give up. Eventually, when you board that plane and live out your dreams you will realize all the anxiousness and uncertainty were worth it. As someone who questioned if going abroad my last year was a good decision and even contemplated dropping the program listen to me when I say have trust in the process and yourself. It is ok to be cautious and anxious but do not let it stop you from experiencing a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I hope whatever path you take abroad you carry the lessons learned and find growth within yourself.

Luis Torres

MAJOR: Kinesiology
PROGRAM: SJSU Exchange – University of Birmingham
EMAIL: luis.f.torres@sjsu.edu

BIO: My name is Luis Torres and I am a third year majoring in Kinesiology with a specialization in exercise and fitness. I am a first generation college student that has lived in Mexico and the US. Studying abroad was something that I was interested in even before entering SJSU. My sister had studied abroad in Spain when she was a student and I remember her telling me how it made a positive impact on her life. When I was in my second year at SJSU I met a Japanese exchange student and she told me the same; studying abroad was something that everyone should get the chance to undertake. So I decided to take a dive into the unknown and immerse myself in a new culture. I chose the UK because I wanted to go to the hub of all things related to soccer. Being a Kinesiology major, I want to work with a professional soccer team in the future. I also wanted to experience independence while abroad. Finally, studying abroad allowed me to travel outside of my host country and experience a myriad of other cultures. It was very interesting to see different cultures and their perspectives on life.

GOALS: One of my personal goals was to become more independent and I also wanted to find myself while I was surrounded by a new culture. I was able to achieve this as I had much more on my plate than I would if I was at SJSU. I had to balance cooking, cleaning, studying, commuting, traveling and hanging out with friends. I believe I was able to effectively manage my tasks. I also feel that I was able to reflect on myself and who I want to become in the future. My academic goals included passing all my classes with good grades. I put a lot of time and effort into my studies and I feel that I was able to adapt to the teaching styles in the UK. My professional goals included securing an internship with a professional soccer team. Unfortunately I was not able to participate in an internship, however I did make a lot of connections with people in the field of athletic development and recovery. I was able to chat and connect with professors that had coached professional sports before they became lecturers. I also had the opportunity to participate in a research study in which I learned methods in data collection and interpretation.

PERSONAL GROWTH: The friends I made during my exchange made the biggest impact on my life. We only got to know each other for a few months but now it feels like I have known them for a lifetime. The dynamic between people from different countries made it easier for me to open up to others as well as reflect on what kind of person I wanted to be. I was able to make friends from all around the globe and I know we will keep in touch for many years to come. Since most of my friends were also exchange students, we navigated through similar obstacles. At the end of the day, it was comforting to know I had friends I could count on with whatever problems I had going on. I will never forget the countless nights we spent chatting and unwinding after a long day of lectures.

ACADEMICS: How would you describe your academic experience abroad? I had heard that curriculum in the UK was centered around the learner going beyond lecture content. I experienced first hand how important it was to constantly read articles, papers and other sources in order to further develop what was being taught in the lectures. For example, I took a module called Control of Human Movement which was very content heavy. It expanded upon classes I had taken at SJSU so some of the content was familiar. However, since it was content heavy, I had to spend a large amount of time outside of class studying and researching the topics we covered in the lectures. I spent a lot of time reading after lectures and going to office hours in order to make sure I was ready for assessments. I took 2 other courses called Introduction to Teaching and Coaching and another called Movement and Learning. These 2 courses relied heavily on practical applications and group work. Whatever was taught in the lecture was expected to be expanded upon by the students during practical and seminar sessions. These sessions revolved around taking theory and putting it into a real situation. We were often expected to come up with coaching plans for a large variety of age ranges. I would need to read extra material before these sessions in order to be prepared to defend my stance and techniques I applied within the coaching plans. We learned how to incorporate teaching and leadership styles in order to create a streamlined, inclusive, and fun environment in which learners were holistically introduced to activities. The point of these sessions were not only to develop physical literacy but also reflect on social, emotional, and personal skill development. One thing that took some time getting used to were the expectations for students. UK education relies heavily on students to prepare themselves for exams and essays. There is little to no homework so it is of utmost importance to keep up with lectures and study a lot. Typically, grades are based on only a midterm and final exam which was different from what I was used to at SJSU.

CAREER: What skills did you learn / sharpen during your study abroad experience? One of the most important skills I had to develop was time management. The curriculum in the UK is centered around the learner taking initiative and expanding on the content taught in school. This means that I had to manage my time effectively to balance schoolwork, researching, and studying. It is necessary to go the extra mile and research content that facilitates the understanding of lectures, seminars, and practicals. It is also important to keep up with the material that is being taught and study it consistently. I was also able to network with professors, researchers, and students. The professors and researchers I talked with were all in the field of athletic development. To me, they were highly useful in the sense that I was able to get a new perspective as to how sport is viewed in a different country. I was also able to network with classmates that had connections to professional sport organizations in England. Ultimately, studying abroad has opened a new door for my professional goals.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: How has your immersion impacted your perspectives on the world? In the UK, I noticed there are a lot of similarities with US culture. However the main difference is that people are more open to conversations. I could easily strike a conversation with a stranger on the train, grocery store, or cafe. It has helped me to become more open to talking and meeting new people. When I visited Denmark and Germany, I noticed how everyone was courteous in following rules and etiquette. Thanks to my exchange I have gained a more positive aspect of humanity. Most people are honest and are just trying to live a good life. I also realized that discrimination based on race was not really prevalent. Within the university, there is an extremely strong bond between professors and students. Both parties see each other as equals rather than the professors having power over everyone else. One thing that shocked me was that all professors preferred to be on a first name basis with the students. Even professors that had doctorates preferred to be addressed with their first name, which to me helped facilitate a deeper relationship with them.

FUTURE: How has study abroad prepared you for your future? As globalization continues, all of us need to make the effort to understand people who come from different backgrounds. We need to appreciate other cultures and learn what we can from them. Study abroad has helped me access opportunities I would not have if I had stayed in the US. I feel as if I am more prepared to enter the workforce due to my experiences shaping my professional, academic, and personal development. I understand what it means to play your own part but also be able to rise to any occasion and take initiative.

TIPS: What advice would you give to future Global Spartans? To anyone considering studying abroad I would say just do it. Of course, one can feel anxious stepping outside of their comfort zone and entering a new environment. Making the choice to study abroad is the hardest part, everything else will come naturally and flow easily. You will get more positives than negatives and it will change your life forever. It is okay to feel nervous, but you have to understand that many more people are in the same boat as you and you are never alone. There are counselors available to answer any questions. The people you meet abroad will be people you will never stop thinking about. All the memories you make will be vivid, you will also be able to set yourself apart from others when you come back. The development I went through during these last few months would not be possible without my exchange.

San Vu

MAJOR: Computer Science, Interaction Design Minor
PROGRAM: SJSU Exchange – Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea
EMAIL: san.vu@sjsu.edu

BIO: Hi! My name is San and I am a Computer Science major with a minor in Interaction Design. Studying abroad has always been a dream of mine – to immerse myself in a new country, culture, pick up a new language, and meet people from all over the world. I chose to study in Seoul, South Korea for its blend of innovation, tradition, and cultural exchange.

GOALS: My goals were to make new friends, order at a restaurant (in Korean), and be more comfortable in my own company. I would say I was pretty successful. I was able to connect with the owners of my favorite restaurant, enjoy many solo dates, and I now have friends from all over the world. South Korea, Denmark, Netherlands, South Africa, and Australia to name a few :’)

PERSONAL GROWTH: Prior to studying abroad, I had so many fears. How will I get around? How will I make friends? How will I communicate with people? How will I get help if there’s an emergency? Studying abroad allowed me to conquer all of these fears and shaped me into a more confident, independent, and adaptable person.

ACADEMICS: How would you describe your academic experience abroad? I chose to take four elective courses: Basic Korean, Political and Economic Development in Korea, Popular Culture and Digital Media, and Comparative Thought and Culture: Horizons East and West. These were all IEC (International Exchange Courses), designed specifically for exchange students. In these classrooms, you feel so much more excitement to mingle with one another, get to know the professor, learn the content, and be intentional with your time. The intentionality and excitement I felt during my academics abroad is what I’ve aspired to bring back and recreate here.

CAREER: What skills did you learn / sharpen during your study abroad experience? I walked into this study abroad journey solo and had to navigate life in a foreign country completely on my own. Dealing with delayed luggage, planning my day-to-day schedule, getting a phone number, making friends at school, setting up hospital visits, navigating the foreign streets… But I survived and had so much fun along the way! I learned how to be independent, adapt to a new environment, talk to strangers, and stay positive in the unknown.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: How has your immersion impacted your perspectives on the world? Although we may come from different parts of the world, we are still the same. It didn’t matter what age, gender, ethnicity – even language barriers did not stand in the way of human connection. Experiencing meaningful connections with so many different people has given me more hope and confidence that we can all get along and that I truly am never alone. Wherever I go.

FUTURE: How has study abroad prepared you for your future? The unknowns of post-grad are frightening. But having experienced the independence of living abroad and figuring out new ways of life, I feel more prepared for whatevers to come. In whatever situation, I know I can adapt and that I will always figure it out.

TIPS: What advice would you give to future Global Spartans? Go with an open mind, talk to everyone you meet, and give everything a try! You will regret not taking the chance while you have it.

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
BIO: 
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.