Though I had traveled across the pond to Europe before, I had always stayed in the Northern Hemisphere, making my semester abroad to Uruguay particularly special outside of being on a new continent and completely speaking Spanish. I had been worrying about my future for quite a while before going abroad: career, graduation, and so much more. Uruguay was particularly special in that it gave me more than a moment to breathe under the seaside sunsets and extremely tranquil culture.
Outside of studying Spanish as my primary language beyond English, I also wanted to study somewhere in Latin America as a native North American. I wasn’t sure what to expect while abroad in the slightest, as part of the reason why I chose Uruguay was due to it being a less-commonly heard of study abroad destination. In this strange intersection between all my identities, particularly my indigenous one, in a country with as equally varied perspectives on their own indigenous population, allowed me a glimpse into the difficulties faced in representation all across the Americas.
"If you’re considering studying abroad, don’t shy away from uncertainty or worry. Take that leap of faith and go on a journey you can call your own to see just how incredible this world is. Sometimes you’ll be surprised at what you find."
It was a very similar situation with my identity as someone from the states as well. Uruguay wasn’t very common at all as a destination seemingly, with the questions about why I had chosen Uruguay which amounted to “Why are you here?”, though out of curiosity and intrigue rather than what we in the states might expect from a statement like that. As someone who is both white and indigenous, I was able to get an outsider’s perspective on a lot of things, particularly how much of Uruguay and Argentina see their countries as very homogenous racially and ethnically.
Yet even still, despite my identity seemingly at odds with this facet of the country, the discussion around it still inspired me. Uruguay, in great tranquilo fashion, was incredibly stable, and acknowledged its shortcomings in hopes of surpassing them. From the longest Carnival in the world, lasting roughly a month and a half from January to the end of February, to the festival of Iemanja, carried over from the Yoruba faith to Latin America, the country has countless diverse cultures and perspectives which shape it.
Studying abroad, to put it bluntly, helped remind me just how broad and incredible this world is, and how much I hope to continue learning about it. No matter who you might be, where you’re from, or what your goals are, the world is enormous, and every connection we make can have an unexpected chain reaction. If you’re considering studying abroad, don’t shy away from uncertainty or worry. Take that leap of faith and go on a journey you can call your own to see just how incredible this world is. Sometimes you’ll be surprised at what you find.
Orion Little (international studies major and global health studies minor and Spanish minor), a Diversity Ambassador Scholarship recipient (now the Global Access Ambassador Scholarship), went abroad in spring 2023 with USAC Montevideo.
The Global Access Ambassador Scholarship (formerly Diversity Ambassador) program provides awards to study abroad for a summer, semester, or academic year. The scholarships are intended to support students who study abroad with the intent to serve as Global Access Ambassadors upon return to the UI campus. Upon completion of the study abroad program and return to UI, award recipients are asked to submit a photo and an open letter to prospective students or suggest an alternate means of sharing with prospective students.
The opinions and views expressed by ambassadors are solely those of the students and do not reflect or represent the views of International Programs or the University of Iowa.
International Programs (IP) at the University of Iowa (UI) is committed to enriching the global experience of UI students, faculty, staff, and the general public by leading efforts to promote internationally oriented teaching, research, creative work, and community engagement. IP provides support for international students and scholars, administers scholarships and assistance for students who study, intern, or do research abroad, and provides funding opportunities and grant-writing assistance for faculty engaged in international research. IP shares their stories through various media, and by hosting multiple public engagement activities each year.