Student Reflections on Race and Ethnicity: Finding yourself

Kaitlin Schager is a senior majoring in enterprise leadership at the University of Iowa. As a Diversity Ambassador for UI Study Abroad, she reflects upon her experiences as a first-generation Hispanic woman in Scotland:

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.

College is all about trying new things and experiencing life. As a first generation Hispanic student, I was excited to have the world at my fingertips. Little did I know that I would travel around the world. Crazy how life works out, right? While studying in SCOTLAND, I saw history come to life in front of my eyes. Scotland is a very culturally proud county, so I learned all about their history.


In Edinburgh, Scotland, next to the beautiful castle with my flatmates, Nikki and Katie.

I explored everything from 13th century castles, to a walk through a majestic forest on a hunt for fairies. My adventures didn’t end there. Every weekend, my flatmates and I went on adventures, and, in total, saw over 8 countries. Thanks to Ryanair Airlines’ cheap flights, you can travel this much while staying on a budget.

The people you meet abroad will become your lifelong friends, and you will share an unforgettable bond. Living in a different country can be eye opening with the cultural differences, but you will end up picking up on their crazy styles or lingo.  This is a great time in your life to try all kinds of foods like HAGGIS, Scotland’s most famous dish. Google it if you dare, but know that I loved it by the time that I left.


The Astronomical Clock in Prague - it is so beautiful in person and still goes off every hour!

The best part about trying all of these new and exciting things is meeting peers who are from other parts of the world that teach you even more about other cultures. Oh, and they love our American accents while we go nuts over their British ones.

The funny thing is that even though the people you meet are from all around the world, it is surprising how similar we all are when it boils down.

Having these similarities makes it easier to relate to everyone that you meet. When studying abroad, relate with your new peers by talking about social media, good music, and funny stories about your college experience so far.

College is a time to learn and find out what interests you so that you can create a plan for your future. My future plans before studying abroad were safe and generic; I would graduate business school, find a company desk job, and live life.

While traveling, I realized that life is too short to just blend in with the crowd. I have learned that I love to travel, and feel that finding a career that lets me travel is what I desire.

I am now a senior, and I am planning out my second study abroad trip for this spring. I am so excited to see more of the world, and am happy that I took this adventure while I am young. It has really changed my perspective on the world.

​Learn more about the Diversity Ambassador Scholarship for study abroad, or read more reflections from our Diversity Ambassadors.

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