The University of Iowa

Student Reflections on First-Generation Abroad: Leaving the Comfort Zone

December 22nd, 2014

Shanghai skyline

My name is Jade Manternach, and I am a Senior Entrepreneurial Management major in the Tippie College of Business. I am a first generation student, and I am solely responsible for paying for my college education. I was determined to study abroad while I was at the University of Iowa, and last year I applied for every scholarship I was eligible for. Through University of Iowa scholarships, I was able to get almost 60% of my study abroad experience in Beijing and Shanghai funded!

Jade in front of the Great Wall of China

Jade at the Great Wall of China

The highlight of my time here at UI, without a doubt, has been my study abroad experience in China this summer. The Tippie College of Business piloted this two-week program this May, and I had the opportunity to tour fourteen Chinese businesses and study entrepreneurship, business law, foreign relations, politics, Chinese culture, and so much more. While we were in China, we had many Chinese friends from the college of business who were able to show us the ins and outs of their country, and they gave us a very unique perspective of their cities.

I made a lifetime of memories while abroad, and for any first generation student who is wondering whether or not they should study abroad, I would tell them to go for it, because it is absolutely amazing! There are many resources available for students at the University of Iowa, and any student can make a study abroad experience happen if they are driven enough to go for it. It will be more than worth the extra effort.

My two weeks spent in China were very fast paced and exciting. Beijing and Shanghai have millions of people, and there was never a dull moment. The food was very different, and at first I was cautious, but after a few meals, I became more adventurous. I tried a lot of great foods that I would never have tried otherwise! The traffic in China was very congested and drivers paid little attention to the rules of the road which made every bus trip an adventure in itself.

I’m usually the type of person who sticks to my comfort zone, but stepping outside of it by going to a county that most students will never go to was the best choice I could have made. I discovered through this experience that I am far more capable and independent than I give myself credit for. There is a famous quote that says, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” My time in China has proven that this is true, and studying abroad is such a perfect opportunity to branch out and seek exciting and new opportunities.

Jade Manternach

Learn about the Diversity Ambassador Scholarship for study abroad