CEA: Please provide a short summary of your study abroad experience.
Mark: In the spring of 2012, I studied abroad for a full semester in Barcelona, Spain, with my best friends from Penn State and Miami, FL. The previous summer I had studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, so I knew that I had amazing moments ahead of me. What made Barcelona so memorable were all the great people that I met in the program. There was something very special about the spring 2012 group of students, and combined with the spirit of Barcelona, it made for an experience that I will never forget.
CEA: How have you changed because of your study abroad experience?
Mark: The way I see myself in the future has changed. I now need to live abroad for some time and this is all because of the experiences that I had in Copenhagen and Barcelona. I’ve been fortunate enough to see many parts of Europe and that has fueled my desire to see other countries and continents. My abroad experiences have also made future travel excursions a must as well.
CEA: Why do you think it's important for male students/all students to study abroad?
Mark: It is important for all students to study abroad. The sooner that all people begin to realize that they are part of one global community the better our society will be. Breaking down ethnocentricity is essential for a more global mindset. This can really only be achieved by experience in other cultures and seeing for yourself the global community.
CEA: What are three study abroad myths you can debunk for other male students considering study abroad?
- You will be able to budget. Everybody who is studying abroad needs to budget and everybody will go through tight money situations together.
- You may not need to know the language. I survived fine without knowing the language in both of my study abroad experiences.
- You will have the best time ever. Don’t ever let anyone say you won’t.
CEA: If you could give any piece of advice to other male students considering study abroad, what would it be?
Mark: Stop considering and sign up. Going abroad is expensive, but it can be managed. There are plenty of ways to finance an abroad trip, and shouldn’t be the reason why somebody doesn’t go. Also, don’t be afraid to go alone. There are plenty of students on the abroad trip that go alone, and are looking to make friends. Those people can turn out to be your lifelong friend.
CEA: How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics and/or future career goals?
Mark: My study abroad experience solidified my lifelong friendship with my two best friends. This is the most important thing to me. Traveling to Sensation White in Belgium, and the Barcelona club scene was also the start of my love and passion for house and techno music. Currently, I am exploring career options in the electronic dance music industry, particularly European based labels and live event production.
CEA: What skills did you learn or improve upon during your time abroad?
Mark: When you are abroad, you learn how to be aware of your surroundings. Every place that we visited was unfamiliar to us and usually was the first time any of us had ever been to that destination. You are forced to learn and experience how to handle yourself in unfamiliar territory.
CEA: Please share any more of your perspective on studying abroad and male participation:
Mark: Studying abroad is an experience that most are unable to do. I was fortunate enough to go abroad twice, and I’ll forever owe and be thankful for my parents. Your college years are some of the last years where you don’t have much responsibility. Live it up and get out and see the world while you still can. Your friends will be home when you get back. If you can do it, do it!
CEA Alumni Ambassador Mark Brewster is currently a Senior at Penn State, University Park. He studied abroad in Barcelona during the Spring 2012 semester.
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