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University of Illinois at Chicago

Seville, Spain

Spring 2020

Sarah Wu, Alumni Ambassador

Alumni Ambassadors
1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?
It has changed me so fundamentally that I find it difficult to fit back into the mold of me from before. Before, I was set on graduating in two years, even though I wasn’t sure what I was going to do after. I was set on finding a professional internship this year, even though it didn’t appeal to me. I was set on having a career in the U.S., even though there was just something about Europe that called to me.
But since then, I have gotten a new lease on life, a new kind of mentality. I have applied to be an assistant teacher in Spain for the upcoming year with no plans for what will happen after. I have also decided to focus on things that make me happy, like learning languages. I’m even thinking about building a life in Europe. And despite the uncertainty of it all, I find myself content with it.
No longer am I fixating on a future or hanging on to my past, trapped between the two. Just being is absolutely liberating, and I have Spain to thank for setting me free.

2. Why would you like to be an Alumni Ambassador?
I genuinely believe that studying abroad is one of the best, if not the most life-changing thing, that I have ever done. I was feeling very lost in life and I felt like I didn’t know myself, but going to Spain changed all that. It opened my eyes to a new way of life, and it gave the change of perspective I needed to move forward. And although I’m still trying to figure myself out, studying abroad instilled a confidence and a newfound sense of adventure in me that I would not have gotten otherwise. And it is this that I want other people to experience as well, especially if they are just as young as I am.
I don't think people understand just how much travel and culturalization can change you. When you are thrust out of your comfort zone, you are forced to adapt and that leads to growth and new realizations. Additionally, you get the chance to embrace other cultures and meet incredible people. Studying abroad makes you a global citizen and overall, a better person. And this is something I want for everyone.

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