This semester, this class taught me so much and has opened so many doors of just understanding studying abroad. I’ve learned the reasons why going abroad could be beneficial, yet hamrful to some, and also why It would be a good fit for me. Starting off in the class, I had the wrong idea of where I wanted to go and why I wanted to go there. I thought that money was going to fully stand in the way and that people just study abroad to just get away from where they’re from and into a new scenery. I learned I would like to study abroad to learn and see first hand how other cultures interact. It’s fascinating to see how different but yet similar people of different backgrounds can be. I hoped that as I get older, I’d be mature enough to know when I’m ready.In the end, I think I’m actually more ready and mature than I give myself credit for. I also had no clue that studying abroad supposedly should cost the same if not cheaper than your tuition you are already paying for the semester. It was actually ironic because my mom and I were talking this weekend about this study abroad course. We also brought up how expensive it would be and how it would be a lot more than what I’m paying right now. It would be interesting to now share the information I’ve gotten. The only knowledge of studying abroad I had at first was from movies and a little from my friend who was a foreign exchange student back in high school. Since movies glamorize everything and my friend and I never really talked into depth about finances and the hard work that goes into studying abroad, you can say I knew little to none. Now, I can say that I definitely understand the concept more. I figured out that I would like a more structured study abroad experience. I get very uncomfortable with too much independence, no schedule, and no familiar faces. I don’t think I’d have fun if it was an experience where my activities were solely up to me. Honestly, I’d probably just stay in my room where I felt comfortable. I also would prefer more of a short-termed study abroad experience because I feel I’d get too home sick to even appreciate my time there. Although, since the short-termed is more expensive, I should consider getting out of my shell and going with long term. If I were to study abroad, I’d like to do an internship or as well for the purpose of research opportunities and credibility. The program that I love the most is a summer GEO Direct-Enroll program at the American College of Greece. The reason I love this program the most is because it has multiple programs and classes I can take that’s specifically for my major. I’m also a big fan of this whole short-term studying abroad. I also would love to go to Greece so it’s a win-win. I want to go to Greece because it offers a lot of classes for my major and, who wouldn’t want to go to Greece? I think it’s probably one of the coolest and unusual places to go nowadays. The most I know about Greece is from the basics you learn in history class, the Parthenon, the Acropolis of Athens, the whole nine yards. I’ve also seen and learned about Greece from movies, such as 300, and many more. Even though I’m pretty sure movies aren’t the best way to portray Greece in it’s modern time, the history of Greece is still cool. I also love watching and reading about Greek mythology, although, I think Greek mythology could be considered a stereotype. I feel like a lot of people when they think of Greece, automatically think of them as toga wearing, 12 God having people, even though it was so long ago. Actually, Greece has a large proportion of Christian Orthodox. Although I don’t know much about Greece, I really want to explore and learn more about the culture and language. I think that’s another reason I’m pulling towards Greece so much. I have never traveled there or even met anyone that has been there. Finally, I learned study abroad isn’t for everyone. A lot of times, people engage in things to make themselves seem more precious than they really are. It’s like, they don’t help people for the people benefit, they do it for their benefit. And posting on social media for others to see them participating in these international programs, gives them comfort to make it feel like they’re doing something right. It is also true that individuals, especially those that have more money than the average family, makes sure their kids participate in some type of fancy service-learning program, but, while they boast on Instagram, they forget to not only help and care about what they’re doing internationally, they forget to help out with things that are going on in their own backyards. Although many aren’t passionate about their services, depending on your internal goals and motivations, you can definitely still engage in international volunteering experiences and do more good than harm. It honestly all just depends on you. There are people in this world that genuinely want to give back, with no cell phones or personal satisfaction. Some people really want to just help. Study abroad was a fun engaging class. Thank you for allowing me to be apart of it!
After watching “The Danger of a Single Story” video, I felt inclined to ask my friends about their first impressions of me, before having actually met me. I asked them if they held any prejudice of me because of my looks, gender, ethnicity, and body language. All of them gave me just about the same response. “I thought you were a (b-word), I don’t know why, you just have that face of a (b-word). But then I actually got to know you, and you turned out to be an alright person.” This did not come to much of a shock to me, as I have gotten this response plenty of times from people before. However, having so many people give a unanimous response all at once to this question (along with the video we watched for this assignment) got me thinking. If so many people were able to come to this conclusion about me, what’s to stop them from making worse assumptions about foreigners?
As much as I try not to judge books by their covers, I cannot help but make assumptions about some people based on their looks. I found myself to do this a lot ever since moving down here to Richmond. Mainly, I just make assumptions about people that I perceive to be homeless. Often, if I see someone to be standing on a street corner, not waiting for a ride and in worn-down clothes, I will assume that they are either homeless or just begging for money.
This year for Thanksgiving, I finally got upgraded to the “big kid table”–a very big deal in my family. For the first time ever, I had a front row seat for my uncles’ very lively and very drunk table arguments. Amongst the typical arguments about politics, sports teams, and which family member hid Uncle Mike’s 6-pack of Budweiser, I brought up the topic of studying abroad.
Most of my family members have not traveled outside of the country, with my immediate family members being the exception. I initially thought that they would be standoffish about the topic and be hesitant to me going. Much to my surprise, I got the opposite response. As I have discussed before, my sister, Miranda, studied abroad in Malta earlier this year. Thanks to Facebook keeping everyone in the loop, my whole family was aware of her travels and wild adventures abroad. Even through their computer screens, they took notice of how much her experience helped her grow. Before Malta, we all knew how shy and introverted Miranda was in any situation. However, this experience had shown to be a clear catalyst for Miranda’s now outgoing and extroverted personality. My family members commented heavily on this throughout our discussion.
Because of Miranda’s positive experience, they heavily encouraged for me to pursue the same urge she had to study abroad. Even though I am already a pretty outgoing individual, they explained to me that the experience could still provide lots of room to grow–both as an individual and to grow in a business networking setting.
All in all, they fully supported any plans of mine for future endeavors abroad, whether it be work, school, or purely to travel.
Eight years ago I came to the United States with my family for more opportunities and a better life. Growing up I had to deal with a lot of cultural shock and most of my peers or the people that I would meet never took the time to sympathize with me nor try to learn about not me as a person, but my culture. They would always ask me questions like “Where are you from? Where is Where is Ethiopia? What language do you speak, Ethiopian? Where is Ethiopia?” and etc… I started to wonder how much it would benefit us as individuals and the people we meet if we took the time to learn about cultures other than ours. As soon as I started high school and got introduced to the idea of studying abroad I automatically knew that it was something that I am going to do.
Currently I am majoring in marketing, and as of now I have no hesitations on changing to another major. The main reason why I want to pursue this major is, because I have always liked to get creative with my ideas and actually use them and also get the business aspect of marketing. I believe that studying and interning abroad will help me gain networking skills, a cultural understanding, and be more hirable. As of now I plan on to study abroad in Chile, because it will help me with my job research and cost since it is one of the countries that are economically growing. Also, as I did my research on organizations and programs that I wanted to do my study overseas at, I learned that most of the universities that accept international students don’t use other languages. They use their own. Saying that, When I was in high school I took Spanish for two years and did not so bad during both years. By reviewing what I have learned in those classes and by taking Spanish here at Virginia Commonwealth University, I will be able to attain that goal.
To have a better understanding of cultures other than mine, I am not waiting on to study abroad to develop my cultural understanding, but instead I have been involved in clubs and organizations that helped interact with people from all over the world. I was able to learn and see cultures from different perspectives. Also, I was lucky enough to create lasting bonds.
When I think of studying abroad, there are many barriers that I can think of, but the ones that affect me the most are cost, my mother being against it, and choosing the right location.
Coming from a house hold where my mother is the only one that provides for my twin sister and I, I am use to asking financial support from my mom for my needs more than my wants. I would always find my own way before I go to her. To prevent this barrier now I have an understanding that there are many scholarships that I can apply to since not a lot of students are taking advantage of that. Also I can use my Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA) and do work study to save up money. When it comes down to my mother being against me studying abroad, her main fear is that I am going to be at a bad place at a bad time. With all of the terror attacks and act of hate we see on the media I don’t blame her. The way I would always defend my wish is by telling her that You cannot live life forever by not doing as you wish due to what ifs. Because we came to the United States eight years ago for a better life by putting aside all of the rumors and bad things we heard, we were able to start a new life. Lastly, one of my main barriers being choosing the right location, since I was little I always wanted to study overseas in Europe, But now By being exposed to all of the resources I could take advantage of, I am open minded to study not only in Europe, but also in other parts of the world .
The myths that resonated the most with me were: study abroad costs too much, there aren’t any scholarships for study abroad, and study abroad is only for language and international relations students. I believe these myths are the most commonly believed. A lot of people never experience study abroad because there is a lack of knowledge about the programs available. In popular culture, movies, social media, and other places, study abroad is depicted as an elite program reserved for the wealthy. Many movies show high-class private school students studying abroad; I believe this is a major impact on the existence of the myths stated earlier. I myself do not have any friends or family that have studied abroad, so therefore I do not have a knowledge of study abroad on the personal level. However, my grandmother does travel the country a lot, however, which contributes to my passion for traveling. Much of my family live across the United States; from as far west as California, as far north as New York, and as far south as Florida. Mostly, my knowledge of study abroad comes from research on the internet, and much more information will come from taking this class. I believe that many students are blown away by the amount of information about activities available at college; much information is most likely ignored or not seen. Our emails are so flooded with activities to take part in that many are ignored. Then, there are even more activities that have to be actively pursued in order to participate. In comparison to high school, college can definitely be overwhelming with activities to take part in. Additionally, study abroad can be easily passed off as too expensive, or simply the student would not be able to do it. Many students that I have known have said that they were not going to study abroad because of the cost, or that it would delay their graduation. While these excuses for not studying abroad are understandable, simply researching the program would prove to these students that any student can study abroad. However, more students have said that they will not be studying abroad because of the current situation overseas; many think it would be safer to stay in the United States. However, I don’t believe that one should live their life in fear of the world. The world is so much bigger than Richmond, so much bigger than Virginia, and so much bigger than the United States. I believe everyone should get the chance to experience different cultures. Not only is there a benefit in the workplace, but there are also numerous benefits personally. There is a big difference between learning about a culture from a book and experiencing that culture personally. There is a saying I have heard that goes, “I’d rather take years of my life than life off my years.” This really resonates with me when thinking about traveling to Europe and other places overseas. There is a difference, however, between traveling with the current situation and traveling somewhere deemed unsafe to travel.
My personal goals for studying abroad exist in the academic, personal, and professional realms. In reality, all of these realms tie into one another. Each success in one realm encourages success in another realm. For example, understanding a different culture personally will also help me relate to someone in my professional career. Academically, learning from another culture will fuel my success in the professional realm when working with various people from varying backgrounds. My goals for studying abroad are numerous. I want to bring back a piece of their culture with me; I want to present myself as a person of numerous colors. By being a person of numerous colors, I will be able to comfort people as I have not been able to before. As I am pursuing a degree in physical therapy, studying abroad will greatly help me relate to the varying types of patients I will be working with. It will help me understand where they are coming from, and also help come up with a plan to best help the patient. I believe that without compassion for other cultures, the work done is not as effective. For example, if I was a patient, knowing that my doctor had experienced where I was from, it would make me a lot more comfortable with him or her. It would also be a great conversation starter for patients that may feel uncomfortable; it is great to share with people something that you are truly passionate about. I want to bring back experiences from different countries and cultures, and to tell about these experiences and inspire someone else to study abroad. I want to thrive in many cultural settings, and attack my academia with vigor. I believe that studying abroad will greatly enhance my desire to learn and apply my knowledge in the professional field. I want to be a person that one feels comfortable working with no matter what the circumstances are. Study abroad is important to me because of the skills, values, learning, and understanding that I can bring back home with me. I want to inspire others to learn and study abroad. Being someone that others can look up to is very important for my professional career. Not only are the experiences important for me, they are also very important to the people that will benefit from them. I can bring back home with me a heightened value for different cultures and hence pass this passion onto others. Everyone says that study abroad is only a party experience; this may be true for some, but I want to study abroad to help myself academically, personally, and professionally. It is important for me to discover how other cultures operate on a personal level. I want to return with experiences that I will remember for a lifetime. I want the people I know and interact with to be able to say that they personally know someone who has studied abroad. If they take this class, or something similar, they can be able to say that yes, they knew someone who has studied abroad. My experience should be able to fuel someone else’s desire to go somewhere along the line. I also strongly believe that study abroad will heighten my sense of individuality; I believe that experiencing so many other cultures will give me a better understanding of myself and what I believe in. All in all, I am very excited to better shape my goals by taking this class. I hope we can all work together this semester to help each other pave the road to our success.