2015 Global Scholar
I studied Chinese two years prior to my trip abroad for the 2015-16 academic year. I was very drawn to the language because of the complex writing system and the fact it is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world. Additionally, China, which has a long and fascinating history, is an important world power.
Studying in China helped me develop my own independence and gain a more global perspective. I worked as an English language teacher in China as well. When I first started, I was given a textbook and a classroom of students. There was no set curriculum, and I had to rely on my own experiences to design an effective class. This was very intimidating. But I found that, with enough research and thought, I was able to organize an efficient structure that worked well during my time there. Overcoming these sorts of challenges is at the core of many students’ study abroad experiences. This is what makes study abroad so valuable.
I also took a boat down the Mekong River in Laos, visited the islands of Thailand, and toured Angkor Wat in Cambodia. It is important to note that my study abroad experience would not have been possible without financial support from the Global Scholars program.
In a huge, interconnected world, it may seem that we are insignificant. However, I have learned that our networks are far larger than many of us know, and our actions have ripple effects. During times of conflict, like we are now experiencing, it is more important than ever to be advocates of open-mindedness and mutual understanding both at home and abroad.
2015 Global Scholar
Anthropology/Film & Media Studies Major
I spent three semesters learning Kaqchikel, an indigenous Mayan language. I study the history and culture, as well as contemporary issues - from colonialism to racism – facing the Mayan people in Guatemala. My interest in Kaqchikel led me to take part in the Sustainable Development Field School program in Guatemala over the 2015 winter break.
There are so many great stories from my time in Guatemala. One day we went to see coffee fields and coffee processing plants. We left our hotel, riding in theback of a truck. We headed up into the hills, going into mist and fog. I felt like we were headed into the clouds. We were clinging to the truck for dear life! We finally pulled over and saw an older man chopping wood. Our guide, who worked in the area, showed us green coffee on the plants and described each step of the harvest and processing. We went to a smaller gathering area where they bag the coffee before sending it to the processing plant at the base. It was astounding how many steps are involved and that the workers are paid so little. It was an adventure and a window into global economics.
The research mentoring aspect of Global Scholars has helped me build a great relationship with Professor Carlos Nash. Here is someone who is just as excited about my research as I am. Professor Nash has been incredibly helpful in helping me develop my research project on the diversity within the LGBTQ community.
2015 Global Scholar
Civil Engineering Major
The Global Scholars Program was pivotal in my growth as a globally conscious individual. The seminar helped me learn about and question the world around me. Our small group of students talked about our local and global communities and where we belonged. We discussed how we could make them better. What I learned in class helped make my study abroad experience so much more meaningful. Being a part of the Global Scholars program broadened my horizons. The scholarship was instrumental in helping fund my study abroad experience.
As for my study abroad program, I wanted to go somewhere off the beaten track. The University of Cape Town piqued my interest as the most prestigious university on the continent of Africa. Cape Town, surrounded by mountains and the ocean, is the most beautiful city I have ever seen. It is an amazingly diverse city with great food and lots of opportunities for outdoor recreation.
Additionally, when I was searching for a study abroad program, there was a lot of tension in the United States because of the shooting of Michael Brown. I was thinking and talking about social justice, especially pertaining to race. South Africa, with its history of apartheid and the victory over it, seemed like a fitting place to go to continue learning about justice.
The most important personal thing I will take away from my experience is the sincere confidence that I gained from going somewhere new by myself. I went to the opposite corner of the Earth and made friends and connected with the community. It was really difficult the first month, but by the end, I didn’t want to leave. I learned so much about myself, and it may be cliché but people always say that studying abroad changes your life because it really does.
Cape Town is an amazing city. Whatever you like – hiking, surfing, eating great food, shopping, sports – there is something for you. I had an amazing experience and am looking to go back as soon as I can. I enjoyed so many great sunrise hikes, Saturday morning market trips, and exploring all of the Cape Peninsula. I met incredible people from all over the continent, and I miss it almost every day. I am so thankful that I was able to have this incredible, life-changing experience.
2014 Global Scholar
Computer Science Major
Since becoming interested in Russian in high school, I planned to study abroad. My program was through the Council on International Educational Exchange, which was approved by the Office of Study Abroad. I was very happy with the program and its staff.
Studying abroad really helped to widen my understanding and experiences. It also confirmed that people in other countries aren't inherently different from people here; they just sometimes speak a different language. I really enjoyed witnessing quintessentially human experiences, such as a family dinner where a mother and aunt were telling embarrassing childhood stories about their son/nephew to his wife.
My research mentor was a former professor, whom I liked very much. I scheduled a meeting with him prior to going to Russia (which is where I collected my data) in order to hash out how to do the study, which relevant papers to read, and how to analyze the results. This conversation was very helpful and gave me everything I needed. I really enjoyed doing the research and being able to present it. I was especially excited about trying to explain fairly technical material to people with other, unrelated specializations, and I think I was able to make it interesting and understandable.