Program: ENGR Exchange: Universidad Politecnica Valencia (UPV)
Term: Spring 2016
It is difficult to truly capture the impact of my study abroad experience in just words. During my time in Spain- in addition to completing educational requirements of my major- I traveled extensively, met many other international students, and exercised my terrible Spanish on a daily basis. Personally, this experience was eye opening; I realized just how similar people are on the individual level, yet how different they are on a cultural level. Now, I am much more capable of adapting to different and unexpected circumstances. Furthermore, travel made me realize how large the world is and how little I have seen of it. I can’t wait to travel more in the future to achieve even better perspective on what this Earth offers in terms of nature, culture, and architecture.
If you are just learning about study abroad, in summary, it is one of the greatest opportunities to travel, learn, and experience different cultures in your life. With all this said, you have to realize study abroad is not: vacation, a semester long party, or only for people who want to learn another language. Instead, study abroad is: an opportunity to travel extensively, a semester where you are challenged by a different education system, a chance to practice a foreign language, and a time when you can easily develop an international network of friends.
Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: As a man of mixed ethnicity, I received many questions about my family origins and received many stares from both locals and students alike. I didn’t let small things like that bother me, and you should not either. You may not fully appreciate the level of diversity the University of Maryland, College Park provides until you are abroad in places with relatively low levels of diversity. If you stand out, be proud of it and represent yourself in a way that reflects who you are, rather than what others expect you to be.