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.

Spring 2024 Deadlines Extended

We are extending the Spring 2024 & Calendar Year 2024-2025 study abroad application deadlines for the following SJSU Exchange, CSU IP, and ISEP opportunities in many parts of the world. Please click on the links below to review the program brochures and apply by the respective new deadlines.

SJSU Exchange



International Student Exchange Program (ISEP) is still accepting applications until October 1st, 15th, and November 1st for many of their direct enrolled universities in Argentina, Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Czech Republic, Ecuador, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Scotland, South Korea, U.A.E, and many more.

Need to talk?

Book an appointment with Julie Lucas or Vidalino Raatior to discuss your options.

Matthew Heitmann

Matthew HeitmannNAME: Matthew Heitmann
MAJOR: History
PROGRAM: Germany – CSUIP – University of Tübingen
TERM: Fall 2022 & Spring 2023
EMAIL: matthew.heitmann@sjsu.edu
BIO: Please tell us about you and why you chose to study abroad.(REQUIRED)

My name is Matt, and I was born and raised in San José. My parents are both children of European immigrants from Italy & Germany. Growing up, I was raised around these influences and would consider myself culturally Italian-American with my Mom’s parents a major influence on me and their family as a whole – which exposed me to another world outside of English-speaking America from an early age. This ultimately led to my interests in history, culture and languages, choosing to pursue a major in History and minor in German linguistics -perhaps contrary to the culturally dominant Italian part of me. Nonetheless I chose to pursue my passion and do a study year in Germany after completing basic introductory German courses at West Valley and currently am in my second semester here at the University of Tuebingen having progressed tremendously with the German language since I first arrived last July. It is my passion and desire to dedicate my life to academics and become a Professor of History & Languages in the future. My dream is to be at least trilingual, mastering German and Italian in addition to my native English. I felt that I would never truly realize this ambition unless I undertook a study year in Europe which although has been difficult, stressful and at first quite lonely, has become a wonderful multi-cultural experience and the perfect opportunity to hone my second language.

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

I haven’t returned back home yet, so it’s hard to say exactly how it will look back in California. But I think that I have learned how to work with so many different people, from all over the world and different walks of life. I have created an expansive network of people here in Europe who I know I will always have contact with no matter where I am.

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

My goals when choosing to study abroad were threefold:

1. First and foremost, German fluency: As aforementioned, a major goal of mine is to become trilingual, fluent in the languages of my familial culture to complement my English. I believe that becoming at least bilingual is a very important stepping stone in this world, as it unlocks another world in and of itself, gives you another cultural perspective on your world, and most importantly provides so many career opportunities that I would otherwise be limited to with just English.

2. Developing a base in Europe: With the political situation across America growing increasingly more concerning and polarizing for me as a gay man and the increasing unaffordability of my beloved California, I have for the last several years considered my options for living and working in Europe. Before I started my program in Germany, I received my German and European Union Citizenship and Passport. This was important for me, as Europe would now permanently be open to me no matter the path I choose nor what comes of our country. I have worked on meeting as many people here as possible, befriending many of them, as well as exploring institutions such as the German-American Institute(D.A.I.) to better establish myself for future contacts and work here, should I pursue it.

3. Most importantly in the short-term however, is of course my degree. I had already completed my History degree requirements save for 1 or 2 courses prior to departing for Germany. But what was challenging to complete at SJSU unfortunately was my German minor. Here in Germany, I have managed to take all of my academically-required courses for the German minor and extra. I have pushed myself over and over at every opportunity I get here to take as many German language classes as possible. Stressful? Yes! Worth it? Absolutely!

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

Multiculturalism: This is a big one for me. The monolinguistic nature of the U.S. with such a dominant language like English as its mother tongue I feel really limits us in getting to know and understand other cultures, societies, and leaves us blind to many negative aspects of our own society. Growing up ethnic, that is to say, with parents or grandparents and aunts, uncles, cousins who were not born nor raised in the United States, is a tremendous advantage I believe in becoming multiculturally-aware and being able to establish and grow connections with non-Americans. From a young age, I often felt different compared to many of the other kids whose families were entirely born and raised American. I took great pride in my roots, and the struggle that my grandparents went through to make it in America. This would lead to my passion for culture, history, and languages. I have managed to make wonderful friends here from so many different backgrounds. Tuebingen is an extremely international campus, attracting people from all over the world. Getting to know so many wonderful cultures, their traditions, celebrations, holidays, and cuisine has been such an extraordinary opportunity to expand my horizons and learn so much more about our world. California is one of the unique places to grow up in America wherein you are already exposed to multiculturalism from a young age and therefore I think this is why I value it so greatly, seeing it as a given since preschool.

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?

I took a heavy course load of German language, culture, communication and reading classes. In August, I had a special 6 week course program with German language school from 8am-3pm while living with a German host family. In the fall semester, I took 4 German language classes, 1 German reading class, 1 German culture class, 1 intercultural communications class, and now will be taking 5 German language and writing courses. All of which were to obtain my German minor.

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

Absolutely. This is a natural byproduct of any study abroad program. You are exposed to a different view of the world, which may also include many similarities. You are also subjected to a whole new way of viewing America. Before I came to Europe, even though I considered myself already a very multi-cultural and global person, I definitely had some red, white and blue sunglasses on. That is to say, I had certain judgments and reservations about countries, their political systems, their economics, societies as a whole that were quite wrong. This is something I feel is very important to be self-aware of, and reflect on throughout any study abroad experience, even if you feel like you’re well educated on the country you’re living in. In my case, I have always been a big fan of Germany and seen them as a beacon of European democracy and stability. Yet despite this, I still judged many aspects of German society incorrectly.

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

I truly believe that when I return to America this summer, that I will have an extremely different view on our society and the structure of our university, for both better and for worse. For instance, I believe I will naturally gravitate towards and connect with international students, and professors who have gone through a similar experience as me – such as Professor Katsev of my History department, who I have developed a strong relationship with as she also studied in Europe during her youth. I think that should I decide to pursue grad school in Europe, or do another study semester that I will be even more prepared the second time around and much more comfortable with myself. This is the kind of experience that is imprinted upon a person for a lifetime. I will always draw upon my international experience in my future education, career and personal life.

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

I think the foremost matter of importance is just pushing yourself to apply for it and commit. I remember the incredible anxiety and worry I had when I was even just considering applying for studying abroad back in January of 2022. Dreams will always stay dreams unless you pursue them, which is why I think this is important advice to always have in the back of your mind.

Once you’ve begun your program, this is some advice which I have received or reflected on and think can be tremendously beneficial to a successful experience:
1. Say yes to every opportunity: Even if it doesn’t work out, even if you don’t end up enjoying it, you still did it. You still took the step, and you learned more about yourself.

2. Put yourself out there: Try to join as many social groups as you possibly can at the beginning. When I first moved into my university’s dorms I joined facebook, instagram, and whatsapp groups to meet as many people as possible. I attended pub crawls, dinner nights, hang outs, in order to meet as many people as I could. Did I end up befriending most of them? No. But I found my people who I clicked best with, I found my friends, and I built my social circle and friend groups with them. They were in the same boat as me just trying to meet other people and so there really isn’t much pressure on you. It’s all in your head!

​​​​​​​3. Take a break when you need to, it’s normal: I have found myself extremely burnt out from too much social activity, and the activities that go with it such as clubbing and drinking. These are a core part of the social experience at any university, which is why I think it’s important to address it in spite of our traditional anti-Alcohol view at American universities. It’s going to be there. You’re going to drink it. That’s just the reality of it. In my first semester I went to a lot of parties and I did a lot of clubbing and drinking with friends. By January, I was completely sick of it and burnt out.

Kianna Vargas

Kianna Vargas

Kianna VargasKianna Vargas (Alumni)
Major: Psychology
Year Abroad: 2019-2020 Academic Year
Program Location: CSUIP / Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile / Santiago de Chile
Current Position: Language and Culture Assistant
Organization: Spanish Ministry of Education

How did your study abroad experience help you with your coursework once you returned to SJSU?

My university in Chile was the number one university in the country meaning that my coursework was extremely rigorous. Attending this school taught me how to better my study happens and how to advocate for myself to professors.

How did your study abroad experience help strengthen your job prospects?
My time in Chile has made me a unique candidate for all jobs I have applied for. Studying abroad teaches you skills you could never learn in a traditional academic setting.

Please describe any skills you learned abroad that you are applying in your current academic, professional, or personal life.
The number one skill I improved on abroad is my Spanish language skills. Although I was confident in my Spanish before arriving to Chile, living and studying there was a humbling experience. In Chile, my Spanish improved immensely, and am now able to use it in all aspects of my life.

What is the most memorable experience or moment from your time abroad?
My most memorable experiences abroad were the solo trip I took to Colombia for a month, hiking Patagonia, and visiting my Chilean friends in their hometowns. A huge perk of studying abroad in the Southern Hemisphere is that the seasons are switched so if you study there for a year you get a summer break. My summer break was from December to March and I used this time to travel across Chile and other parts of South America (Colombia, Peru, and Argentina).

What other experiences do you wish you had optimized while abroad to help you in your career path?
I wish I had volunteered and participated more in school organizations. Due to COVID cutting my time short, I was unable to.

Any other advice to current Spartans about maximizing the study abroad experience? 
Say yes as much as possible, don’t be afraid to be outside your comfort zone, and try your best to make local friends!

Ingrid Camberos Gallardo

Ingrid Camberos Gallardo
 Florence, Italy
Program: CSU Florence Center
Term: Spring 2022 Semester
Major: Political Science
Year: 3rd year

Why did you want to study abroad? 
In my high school there was a program called American Field Service (AFS) and we would exchange with different high schools across the US, as well as receiving year long exchange students from around the world. I’ve exchanged to Japan, Boston, and Chicago and due to that I have always wanted to study abroad for a year once I was in college.

What has been your most surprising, positive, or challenging experience abroad?
The most positive experience studying abroad is the amount of travel once can get done. I’ve travelled to 18 different countries while being abroad and I still have a whole semester left!

Any advice to potential study abroad students?
My advice to potential study abroad students is to get a Eurail train pass. This train pass is how I managed to create an efficient travel itinerary that would allow me to go around Europe for a lower cost. (They have student discounts)

How are you managing your academic success abroad during the pandemic? 
My classes have all been in person and that’s what has helped me a lot while being abroad.

What are some ways that you are interacting with the local community ?
Meeting local people and keeping communication while my time abroad has been such a fun way of saying in touch with the local community. As well as going to the same restaurants, because they now know my the names of my friends and I.

What are some tips for managing your health and safety while traveling during the pandemic?
My only tip would be to respect the guidelines of each country. Some countries don’t require mask, and some do. I tend to follow the rules of the country in which I am in.