Luis Torres

MAJOR: Kinesiology
PROGRAM: SJSU Exchange – University of Birmingham

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.

Janet Garcia Borbon

Janet Garcia Borbon


Congratulations to Janet Garcia Borbon who graduated in December with more than just a degree in kinesiology.  She is a first-generation college graduate, a DACA recipient, the #1 ranked Muay Thai fighter in the United States, and a study abroad alumnae of the business-focused faculty-led program in Germany in summer 2022. Prior to leaving for Germany for her study abroad experience, Janet represented the United States at the World Games in Alabama earning a bronze medal.

What’s your story?

Hi, my name is Janet Garcia Borbon. As a first-generation graduate and DACA recipient, I am proud to have achieved so much in my life. I am proud to have achieved so much in my life. Born in Mexico, I have called San Jose, California my home since I was nine years old. In addition to my academic pursuits, I am also a skilled Muay Thai fighter and currently hold the #1 rank in the 48 kg weight class in the USA. Recently, I had the privilege of representing the USA at the World Games and brought home a bronze medal. I am grateful for all of the opportunities that have come my way and am excited to see what the future holds.

Why did you want to study abroad? 

I have always been fascinated by the idea of studying abroad and experiencing life in a different part of the world. Growing up, I never had the opportunity to travel outside of my home continent and this seemed like the perfect chance for me to step out of my comfort zone and explore a new culture. I am eager to see how people in other parts of the world live and experience life, and I believe that studying abroad will be a valuable and enriching opportunity for me.

What was your experience abroad in Germany?

My experience in Germany has been wonderful. I have had the opportunity to learn about a new culture and meet a diverse group of people. I have gained valuable insights into how business is conducted in Germany and how people view the world. I have also had the chance to try new and delicious foods and engage in meaningful conversations with locals. While the Germans may not be as outwardly friendly as Americans, they are extremely helpful and willing to assist whenever needed. Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Germany and would love the chance to return in the future.

What is The World Games? 

The World Games are an international multi-sport event comprising sports and sporting disciplines that are not contested in the Olympic Games. They are usually held every four years, one year after a Summer Olympic Games, over the course of 11 days.

About 3,600 elite athletes from over 100 countries compete for gold in more than 30 of the fastest growing sports in the world. The first ever World Games took place in 1981 in Santa Clara, CA.

Tell us about your journey and experience at The World Games?  

My journey to the World Games began five years ago when I learned that my sport, Muay Thai, would be included in the games. I made the decision then and there that I would do whatever it took to represent the United States in the World Games. It was fortuitous that the next World Games would be held in Birmingham, Alabama. I spoke with my coach and told him that I wanted to be the best in the country. We worked hard for the next five years, competing against fighters from all over the country and climbing the ranks. Eventually, I won the USA qualifiers, securing my spot on the team and my #1 rank in the USA.

When I arrived at the Games, it was like a dream come true. I had worked so hard for this moment and it was finally here. I took in every moment, making sure to be present and savor the experience. The highlight of the tournament for me was when they called out “Representing the United States of America” and my name. That was when it all hit me: an immigrant child representing the USA. I never thought I would get the opportunity to hear those words and I was overwhelmed with joy. I wanted to cry, smile, and hug my mom to tell her that we had done it. But I had to put on a good poker face and get to work. As I entered the ring, I put all my feelings aside and fought with all my heart. After winning my first match, the crowd started cheering again, “USA! USA!” and all those emotions came rushing back. I hugged my coach and tears rolled down my cheeks.

Although I didn’t win the gold, earning a bronze medal was still a huge accomplishment for me. It was one of the best times of my life and I will always hold that moment dear to my heart.

What does it mean for you as a Spartan to be selected to represent the US in The World Games?

This experience has shown me that anything is possible if I set my mind to it. Being both a student and a top athlete can be challenging, but I have had great professors and counselors who have helped me along the way. Whenever I needed help from my teachers, they were always willing to provide it. They recognized the demands of my athletic career and did their best to help me balance my schoolwork. This has taught me that with determination and support, I can achieve anything.”

Any advice to Spartans?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! There are many resources available to make your college experience easier. I wish I had known this when I first started college, but now you do. Talk to your professors or counselors for guidance and they will point you in the right direction. Remember, you don’t have to go through this journey alone.

NOTE from the Study Abroad & Away office:

If you wish to support future DACA students to take advantage of our global experiences at SJSU, please consider donating to the Dr. Ruth Huard Study Abroad Scholarship which aims to help fund DACA students with their Advance Parole process.

Seung Ho Chang

Dr. Seung Ho Chang

Dr. Seung Ho ChangSeung Ho Chang

College: CHHS
Department: Kinesiology
Program: South Korea (KIN): Land of the Morning Calm (PE)
Location: South Korea

Dr. Seung Ho Chang has been a member of the faculty in the Department of Kinesiology since 2016. He received a B.S. and master’s degree in Physical Education (emphasis in Motor Development and Control) from Seoul National University, South Korea. He earned his Ph.D. in Kinesiology with a specialization in Motor Development and Physical Education Teacher Education from The Ohio State University.  Dr. Chang was a head of the Martial Arts Major in the department of physical education at Korea Naval academy and a chief officer of Taekwondo Demonstration Team for Cruise Training Force (visiting 13 countries). He holds the rank of 5th degree black belt in Taekwondo and has taught Taekwondo at many universities in both South Korea and the United States.