The University of Iowa

Student Reflections on Diversity Abroad: India

September 6th, 2019
Carolyn Lo and friend in saris on balcony

My name is Carolyn Lo and I am currently a student at the University of Iowa majoring in human physiology and biochemistry. I had the opportunity to participate in the India Winterim program this past winter in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. My course involved talking to patients and observing the healthcare system in India. Through this wonderful experience, I had the opportunity to expand my knowledge in a new country. 

At first, my family was very skeptical about traveling abroad, especially since I was traveling across the world alone. Studying abroad was something I had never planned to do, but I also didn’t want to regret not taking the chance to do so. As a first-generation student, it meant I had to figure everything out myself. One of the biggest barriers was the cost of studying abroad, but I was grateful to have many resources that would help allow me to fund my study abroad trip. There are so many resources out there to help students travel abroad, it just takes work to find and apply for those scholarships and grants. As a first-generation student, it taught me how to be independent and discover new things. 

I was very nervous coming into this experience in an extremely new environment. But little did I know that it would be a transformative experience that opened my eyes to new insights. One thing I always reminded myself was to keep an open mind. The culture was captivating in so many different ways. I was surprised to see the similarities and differences between cultures. The more contact I had with others, the more I learned from the community. Traveling abroad has helped me learn to adapt to new environments and cultures. I was challenged to push out of my comfort zone and navigate foreign situations. There were instances that were overwhelming, but these challenges helped me grow and build my confidence.

My time abroad was a learning experience that will allow me to expand my worldview. If you have the chance, I would highly recommend studying abroad! I have gained a new perspective and developed cross-cultural awareness. I am most appreciative for the opportunity to go abroad because it has given me the chance to achieve a more profound understanding of my community and the world we all share. My time studying abroad will be a life changing experience that I’m glad I could learn from!


Best Wishes, 

Carolyn Lo


Please note that the opinions and views expressed by diversity ambassadors are solely those of the students and do not reflect or represent the views of International Programs or the University of Iowa.