Victoria studied on an embedded program to focused on Agricultural Issues in Guanajuato, Mexico in Spring 2016.
If you could give only one reason, why would you suggest other students study abroad?
Studying abroad, even on a short-term trip, gives you an experience that you could never have inside the classroom. Traveling allows us to develop valuable life skills, understand the world and people around us better, and have a greater appreciation for our lives. Regardless of the country you travel to, you are bound to be pushed outside of your comfort zone through once in a lifetime experiences that will change you for the better.
If you could go abroad again, what would you do differently?
I would have taken more pictures and kept better notes and journals. Every detail that I could have recorded would have helped me to better remember my trip and to be able to reflect more effectively upon my return home.
What concerns/fears did you have about studying abroad, and how did you overcome them?
I did not know many of the people in the group that I was traveling with and most of them I met for the first time at the airport. We quickly overcame this obstacle because in my opinion, traveling with someone is one of the greatest ways to get to know them. By the end of the week many of us were very close and were sad to be returning home!
What was it about your program specifically that fit your personal goals over other programs?
I knew that the course instructor was incredibly knowledgeable and had taken the same trip many times before. His connections and resources made our trip one of a kind and I know that had anyone else been leading it, the experience would have been drastically different. The curriculum of the program was also a topic that I am very interested in and I learned a great deal from.
How have you used the skills you learned abroad now that you are back; either in job searching, or in other activities?
Traveling gives you a repertoire of life skills that only come from certain experiences. I believe that through my study abroad experiences I have become more flexible and adaptable, more understanding and respectful of others, and more confident to jump into a situation that I know will push me outside of my comfort zone.
What advice would you give to outbound study abroad students to help them make the most out of their study abroad experiences?
Don’t be afraid to try new things and say yes to opportunities that push you outside your comfort zone! There is little comfort in the growth zone and little growth in the comfort zone.
Share an experience where you interacted with someone in your host culture in a way that taught you something.
In Mexico, we spent a great deal of time with students who attend the University of Guanajuato. Interacting with these students showed me just how blessed I truly am as many of them were struggling to pay for their education at a fee that is less than what I spend on books every year. I think it’s easy to think of poverty as something that only happens to starving children in Africa but this trip made me realize how much closer to home that is.
What is one thing you wish you had known before participating in an embedded program?
I have participated in two embedded programs and one I regretted greatly because of the price. Embedded courses are obviously cheaper than an entire semester abroad but they can be very expensive, especially since they are usually very short in comparison.
Why would you recommend an embedded program to other students?
Embedded programs are great because they allow you to have an international experience without committing to an entire semester or summer abroad. Personally I love Penn State too much to leave for an entire semester so an embedded course was perfect!