University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Prague, Czech Republic
1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?
My study abroad experience has definitely changed me into a better-rounded individual. I’ve known that I wanted to study abroad since high school, but you never really know what you’re getting yourself into until you’re actually there. Since I arrived in the Czech Republic, I’ve had obstacles thrown at me. Learning a different language, being in a new city, and making new friends could have been very stressful. One of the most important things I’ve learned here is to take life by stride and be independent. Back at my home university, I lived a comfortable life. I knew my campus, I knew who my friends were, and I knew what every single day would look like. Moving to a foreign country for a semester changed all of that. All of a sudden, I had to learn a new city. That required memorizing where I lived, how to use the public transportation, the currency exchange, and how to carry an entire bag of groceries from the grocery store back home because there wasn’t a car to drive me home anymore. I had to meet new people and I had to adhere to a new language that. But all of these things shaped me into a better-cultured person. Now, I know Prague like the back of my hand. I can navigate its public transportation, I know the value of the dollar, and I know that shopping more frequently is better because you don’t have to carry as much back home. I’ve made friends from across the world, and have learned bits and pieces of a new language. Studying abroad has changed me for the better, and I am eternally grateful for all the experiences I’ve had because of it.
2. If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say?
If I had 60 seconds to convince a friend to study abroad, I would tell them about all of the wonderful experiences they would have. From traveling all over the world, to meeting the most incredible people, to learning new languages and absorbing new cultures, studying abroad can influence anyone’s life. While in Europe, traveling between countries is very inexpensive. Buses, trains, and planes are all available for you to get wherever you need to be. I cannot stress enough how amazing it has been to visit places I never could’ve dreamed of seeing. From swimming in the bluest waters of Split, Croatia, to eating homemade pasta and buying leather goods in Florence, to visiting the castles and historical sites of Poland, I’ve seen places I never thought possible. As you immerse yourself in these new cultures and new places, you meet people from all over the world as well as locals. These people can become lifelong friends, or have connections who can help you in your future career. You never know who you’re going to meet while you’re abroad. Living abroad, you can pick up new languages or increase your language skills. My knowledge of the Russian language helped me so much while living in the Czech Republic, but I also picked up some Czech just by taking public transportation or going to the grocery store. My experiences abroad have changed my life for the better in so many ways, and I truly believe everyone should be able to do the same.