NAME: MiguelAngel Gonzalez
MAJOR: Continuing Education
PROGRAM: Scotland – SJSU Exchange – Edinburgh Napier University
BIO: Please tell us about you and why you chose to study abroad.
I chose to study abroad because I had several motivations driving my decision. Firstly, from an academic perspective, I was eager to learn about engineering from a different perspective, and Scotland’s engineering programs offered a unique opportunity to do so. I believed that gaining insights from a different educational system would broaden my knowledge and provide me with a fresh outlook.
Secondly, I have always been fascinated by different cultures, and studying abroad presented the perfect chance to immerse myself in a foreign country’s way of life. Scotland’s rich history, vibrant traditions, and welcoming people piqued my curiosity. I wanted to experience daily life, customs, and traditions firsthand and develop a deeper understanding of a culture different from mine.
Lastly, I saw studying abroad as a remarkable chance for personal growth. Living independently in a foreign country would push me out of my comfort zone and foster adaptability, self-reliance, and problem-solving skills. I knew navigating a new environment, making new friends, and overcoming challenges would contribute to my personal development, boosting my self-confidence and resilience.
In summary, my decision to study abroad was driven by a combination of academic curiosity, cultural exploration, and personal growth aspirations. I believe that this experience will not only enhance my academic knowledge but also broaden my horizons and shapte me into a more well-rounded individual.
CAREER: What skills did you learn/sharpen during your study abroad experience?
During my study abroad experience, I had the opportunity to learn and sharpen a wide range of skills that have greatly contributed to my personal and professional growth. In a practical engineering course, I acquired hands-on skills such as sheet-metal bending, lathe usage, and metal filing. These technical skills not only expanded my understanding of engineering principles but also equipped me with practical abilities essential in real-world engineering scenarios.
Furthermore, I took a product management course that provided me with valuable business and management skills. This course taught me how to effectively market a product, analyze its potential profitability, and collaborate with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds to create comprehensive reports. These experiences have honed my ability to apply business strategies, think critically, and work seamlessly in multicultural teams.
Apart from the technical and business skills, my study abroad experience has also helped me develop essential personal and intercultural competencies. Navigating a city on foots and being self sufficient in a foreign environment has taught me independence, adaptability, and problem-solving. Additionally, the exposure to different cultures and the diverse community I interacted with have enhanced my open-mindedness, cross-cultural communication skills, and ability to collaborate effectively in multicultural settings.
GOALS: What were your goals for studying abroad?
Personal, academic, and professional aspirations drove my goals for studying abroad. On a personal level, I was motivated to live independently in a foreign country, embracing the opportunity to challenge myself and expand my horizons. By navigating a city on foot, being self-sufficient, and immersing myself in a different culture, I aimed to develop a sense of independence and open-mindedness toward diverse perspectives.
Academically, I had specific goals centered around my engineering studies. I wanted to learn about engineering from Scotland’s perspective, as its renowned engineering programs offered unique insights and approaches. By studying in a different educational system, I sought to broaden my knowledge, gain exposure to innovative techniques, and develop a comprehensive understanding of the subject. This academic enrichment would give me a fresh outlook and enhance my engineering and problem-solving skills.
Professionally, my study abroad experience was instrumental in my career development. I recognized the importance of acquiring global competencies in today’s interconnected world. By living in a foreign country, collaborating with individuals from different cultures, and adapting to new environments, I aimed to sharpen my cross-cultural communication skills, expand my professional network, and cultivate a global mindset. These skills would be invaluable in my future professional endeavors, enabling me to navigate diverse work environments and contribute to multinational teams effectively.
PERSONAL GROWTH: What was the biggest impact that your study abroad experience had on you?
The biggest impact my study abroad experience had on me was profound personal growth and the development of a sense of independence. I broadened my perspectives by living independently in a foreign country, navigating a city on foot, and immersing myself in a different culture. I discovered the joy of being comfortable in my own company.
Throughout my study abroad journey, I learned to embrace solitude and enjoy my company. It was a transformative experience that allowed me to reflect, introspect, and appreciate the value of self-reliance. By stepping out of my comfort zone and immersing myself in unfamiliar surroundings, I became more confident in navigating challenges and exploring new experiences independently.
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 abroad was enriching and provided valuable opportunities to expand my knowledge and skills in various domains. The practical engineering course gave me hands-on training. I learned essential techniques such as sheet-metal bending, lathe usage, and metal filing, which equipped me with practical engineering skills crucial in real-world applications. The course deepened my understanding of engineering principles and allowed me to gain valuable experience in working with different materials and shaping them into desired forms.
In addition to the engineering course, I also had the opportunity to study product management, which was a valuable addition to my academic journey. This course focused on teaching me important aspects of marketing a product, analyzing its potential profitability, and collaborating with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds to create comprehensive reports. The knowledge and skills I gained in product management expanded my understanding of the business side of engineering. We gave me a more well-rounded perspective on product development and market viability.
Beyond the specific courses, my academic experience abroad was shaped by the overall environment and cultural immersion. Being in a foreign country allowed me to develop a global mindset and broaden my perspectives. I learned to be self-sufficient and navigate a city on foot, which fostered independence and adaptability. Moreover, being open-minded to other cultures became integral to my academic journey as I interacted with classmates and faculty members from diverse backgrounds. This exposure to different cultures and ways of thinking enhanced my ability to collaborate effectively and appreciate the richness of diversity in an academic setting.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: How has your immersion impacted your perspectives on the world?
Through various activities such as guided tours, engagement in school clubs, and support of local businesses, I had the opportunity to deeply engage with the local community and gain a deeper understanding of the region’s culture, history, and social dynamics.
One significant way my immersion impacted my perspectives on the world was by fostering a greater appreciation for cultural diversity and intercultural understanding. By actively participating in guided tours, I witnessed firsthand the local community’s unique traditions, landmarks, and customs. This exposure allowed me to develop a more nuanced understanding and respect for different cultural practices and perspectives. It helped me realize that there are countless ways to approach life and that diversity should be celebrated rather than feared.
Engaging in school clubs allowed me to interact with individuals from different backgrounds and cultures. Collaborating on projects, sharing experiences, and exchanging ideas allowed me to challenge my assumptions and broaden my worldview. It taught me the importance of inclusivity, empathy, and effective communication in fostering meaningful connections and promoting mutual understanding.
Supporting local businesses also played a crucial role in shaping my perspectives on the world. By actively seeking out local establishments and supporting their endeavors, I gained a deeper appreciation for the economic, social, and cultural impact of small businesses within a community. I witnessed firsthand the passion and dedication of local entrepreneurs, and this experience highlighted the significance of community support and the value of sustainable, locally-focused economies.
FUTURE: How has study abroad prepared you for your future?
Studying abroad has significantly prepared me for my future in numerous ways. The combination of personal growth, academic enrichment, and cultural immersion has equipped me with diverse skills and perspectives that will positively impact my path.
First and foremost, the experience of living independently in a foreign country has fostered my self-sufficiency and adaptability. Navigating a city on foot, embracing solitude, and being comfortable in my company have instilled a sense of resilience and confidence. These qualities will undoubtedly serve me well in future endeavors, as I have learned to navigate unfamiliar situations, adapt to new environments, and tackle challenges proactively.
Academically, my study abroad experience has expanded my knowledge and skills in engineering and product management. The practical engineering course provided me with hands-on training in essential techniques, while the product management course deepened my understanding of marketing, profitability analysis, and cross-cultural collaboration. These academic achievements have enhanced my technical expertise, critical thinking abilities, and business acumen, which are highly valuable in a professional setting.
Moreover, my immersion in a foreign culture has broadened my perspectives and intercultural competence. By actively engaging in guided tours, participating in school clubs, and supporting local businesses, I have gained a deeper appreciation for cultural diversity and a greater understanding of global dynamics. These experiences have honed my communication skills, nurtured empathy, and strengthened my ability to collaborate effectively with individuals from different cultural backgrounds.
The combination of these experiences and skills acquired during my study abroad journey has prepared me for the future in multiple ways. Whether pursuing further academic studies, embarking on a professional career, or engaging in cross-cultural collaborations, I am equipped with the tools to thrive in a globalized and interconnected world. The self-sufficiency, adaptability, academic knowledge, and cultural awareness gained through studying abroad have shaped me into a more well-rounded individual, ready to tackle challenges and make meaningful contributions in any endeavor I pursue.
TIPS: What advice would you give to a future Global Spartan?
As a previous Global Spartan and prospective Global Ambassador, I am honored to share my advice for future students considering studying abroad. Here are some key insights and recommendations:
1. Be open-minded and embrace the unknown. Studying abroad is an opportunity for personal growth and cultural exploration. Step out of your comfort zone, try new things, and immerse yourself in the local culture. Embracing new experiences will enrich your journey and broaden your perspectives.
2. Before embarking on your study abroad adventure, take the time to plan and prepare. Research the destination, familiarize yourself with local customs, and learn some basic phrases of the local language. This groundwork will help you navigate the initial challenges and move smoothly to your new environment.
3. One of the most rewarding aspects of studying abroad is interacting with the local community. Engage in cultural activities, attend local events, and seek opportunities to volunteer or intern with local organizations. This will deepen your cultural understanding and create lasting connections and memorable experiences.
4. Embrace cultural differences and respect local customs and traditions. Approach each interaction with an open mind and a willingness to learn. Understanding and appreciating different perspectives will enrich your study abroad experience and foster meaningful connections with people from diverse backgrounds.
5. Take advantage of your academic opportunities during your study abroad program. Immerse yourself in the coursework, engage with professors and classmates, and participate actively in class discussions. Additionally, be proactive in pursuing personal growth. Reflect on your experiences, challenge your assumptions, and continuously seek new ways to expand your knowledge and skills.
6. Keep a journal or blog to document your study abroad journey. Capture your thoughts, experiences, and reflections throughout the program. This will serve as a cherished memento of your time abroad and help you process and integrate the lessons learned during your experience.
7. As a Global Ambassador, you can represent your university and share your study abroad experience with others. Embrace this role with enthusiasm and authenticity. Be a source of support and guidance for future Global Spartans, sharing your insights, answering their questions, and inspiring them to embark on their transformative study abroad journeys.