Dear Prospective Student,
My name is Guadalupe Trinidad, but everyone calls me Lupe. I don’t know how much one can tell from a name, but mine yells out ethnicity. I come from a place in Texas called Laredo, a border town to Mexico. My family is Mexican and those were the traditions I was raised with. We are a very close-knit family, to be more precise all my relatives are in Laredo or within a 150 mile radius, so when I broke the news that I wanted to attend the University of Iowa, well the reactions weren’t all that enthusiastic. My parents have always encouraged my brother and me to pursue an education, but the idea of Iowa wasn’t exactly what they were thinking of. “Why so far?” and “Can’t you just go to college here?” were the questions I heard everyday.
This is my third year at the University of Iowa and before that my travelling experience well… amounted to less than a handful of places. Somehow I had convinced my parents that Iowa was the best place for me; that I needed to grow and that it was time for me to become a bit more independent. During my first two years of college I heard a lot of my friends talk about study abroad, and honestly I didn’t ever think to make one of those experiences my own. However, I realized that part of growing up is getting to know myself better and why not, explore the world. So by my sophomore year I decided that I too should get involved in studying abroad and go visit the one place I had always dreamt of, Italy.
There were a lot of applications and processes to make, but the most difficult part of this was telling my parents. “Italy!? Why do you want to go to Italy, that’s too far and it’s not even in the same continent.” “Can’t you take those classes at Iowa?” See, studying abroad is more than just taking classes; it is an experience that changes your life. It is not a vacation or a trip. It is an opportunity to live in another country, amongst a different culture and different people. It tests you as a student and as a person and that is exactly what I told them.
I can’t tell you what to expect or what to look for when you go abroad because everyone makes their own adventures. All I can say is get out there and experience and even if it’s not Italy where you choose to go, which I really recommend, just go somewhere. Be open to new experiences and absorb as much as you can. Wherever you come from and whatever you decide to do, know that you don’t need an excuse to go abroad, all you need is the ambition, or as we like to say in Spanish, las ganas.