The University of Iowa

Student Reflections on First-Generation Abroad: Unforgettable opportunities

December 21st, 2011

Reflections from First-Generation Students

Dear Prospective Student,

My name is Roberto Paniagua and I am a 3rd year student majoring in Political Science, Economics, and French. My three years at Iowa have taken me to places all around the world. During my first summer as a college student I spent three months in France living with a host family and taking classes at a university of Lyon, France. My time there was awesome and I had tons of opportunities to travel all throughout Europe and visit some unforgettable sights!

Being a first-generation student, my family was pretty new to the whole college experience and the great opportunities of studying abroad. My father had always said, “Well can’t you learn French here?” while my mother tried to hide the emotions of not seeing her son for three whole months. After explaining to my parents the great opportunities and experiences that I would gather during my time in Europe, they were fully supportive. (Oh yeah, and some basic training on how to use Skype).

During the past two Winterim sessions at Iowa I had the opportunity to travel to India for three weeks to work with several non-profit organizations focused on various issues. These organizations ranged from providing free eye care to India’s poorest to helping victims of the 2004 India tsunami. My experiences during those two trips were remarkable. I took tons of pictures, but not even all that could capture the wonderful life-changing moments that I encountered during my time in India.

Studying abroad provided me with great insight to different parts of the world that I could have never captured in a classroom or by reading a book. The memories that I made were unforgettable and I would never trade it for anything!

Roberto Paniagua