student reflections

Mandy Gavin, University of Iowa undergraduate engineering student, studied abroad in Hong Kong during the summer of 2015. She applied for and received several scholarships, including a Global Engineering Scholarship and a Center for Asian and Pacific Studies Study Abroad in Asia Scholarship. Gavin also used the Summer Hawk Tuition Grant to help fund her study abroad experience. Last summer, Gavin worked as a continuous improvement intern at PMX Industries. For this summer, she has secured an internship with Alliant. While interviewing for the Alliant internship position, Gavin feels her study abroad experience helped her stand out, calling it a ‘gold star’ in the eyes of her employers.

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Undergraduate engineering student Carli Brucker studied abroad in Hong Kong during the summer of 2015. To help fund her study abroad experience, Brucker used the Summer Hawk Tuition Grant. She also applied for and received a Global Engineering Scholarship. Brucker pursued a second academic experience abroad through the course International Perspectives:  Xicotepec. The course involved a service-learning experience over Spring Break in Xicotepec, Mexico.

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José Diaz, an undergraduate student in the Tippie College of Business, studied abroad in London through the Undergraduate International Business study abroad program. To help fund his study abroad experience, Diaz applied for and received several scholarships, including the Diversity Ambassador Scholarship. A fourth-year student, Diaz is looking forward to working as a corporate analyst at JP Morgan Chase in Chicago following graduation – a job he feels his study abroad experience helped him land. Diaz currently works as a student assistant in the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.

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Since returning home from my study abroad experience in Edinburgh, Scotland people have frequently asked me the same few surface level questions. What was it like? Did I have a good time? Am I glad to be home? It was good, I had a blast, and yes it’s nice to be back in the US. But people rarely ask me about the difficulties of studying abroad, and even more seldom ask how the experience changed me.

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Traveling to Pondicherry with the 2016 India Winterm Program was my first trip abroad and the experiences I had over the three weeks I was there were life changing. I enrolled in the course Serving Children with Disabilities, Empowering Local Women, Assisting Older Adults (SEA). My enrollment in this course provided me with the opportunity to volunteer with nonprofit organizations in the area, attend lectures with guest speakers, and visit ancient temples and other cultural sites. I volunteered at SARVAM, an after school program created by the Sri Aurobindo Society that works to advance the educational attainment of children in rural areas.

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I never have traveled outside of the Continental US and Mexico. Being a first-generation student from a Mexican background, every opportunity I have had to go on a trip was usually to visit my family in Mexico. Although, I have always wanted to go somewhere completely different from anything I have experienced before. I decided to, quite abruptly, apply to the London Winterim Program. I felt that a college experience would just not be complete unless one studies abroad while they have the opportunity to and I also really wanted to experience being in another continent.

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If you ask me, “How was Morocco?” or any similar iteration of the question, my scripted response will be something along the lines of, “It was great! I learned a lot, and I loved being there, but I’m glad to be home.” This answer, or whichever variation of it bores me the least, satisfies ninety-eight percent of the frustrating, albeit well-meaning, questioners.

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My sexual identity has never been an easy subject with me. I like to say it is similar to having your worst fear tattooed on your forehead. So, I was branded with “GAY” on my forehead. There were nights where I hated every part of myself because of this one little section of my being, but there were also nights that I felt amazing because of my differences. Going to a nation that the majority of popular opinion is opposed to gay marriage was daunting and it made me think about more than just my sexual identity.

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Hello University of Iowa students thinking about studying abroad! Last year, around this time, I was looking into studying abroad just like you! This experience has changed my life. I saw my textbooks come to life, met amazing people, and, above all, found myself.

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My name is Nadia Doubiany, and I am a senior at the University of Iowa studying International Studies in Human Rights, Fundraising and Philanthropy Communications, and Spanish. If you are considering study abroad in Cuba, do it! In all of my travels abroad, my experience in Cuba has been by far the most life changing.

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