UMD: A Globally Connected University

Sarah Pimentel

Sarah Pimentel

Program: UMD-Summer: Iceland (ENME)
Term: Summerterm 2019
Major: Materials Science and Engineering 

I certainly became more independent [by studying abroad]. I had never traveled alone beforehand, so it was a new experience for me. I also made attempts to be more social to bond with my peers I had never met before. Stepping out of my comfort zone to be more social and talkative would be more helpful in future group situations in my academic career. Through this course, I also got a foothold in thermodynamics which I will learn more in depth later in my academic career. I made connections with my teachers and peers that will advance my academic career. The teachers were helpful in giving advice for being in the engineering school, and I made connections with upperclassmen in my major. 

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: My advice is that you never want to put yourself in danger. Safety is your number one priority, so do your research on countries' social climates and laws. For the study abroad course, I'd say to make sure it can get you ahead in your major or minor.

My most memorable experience was a field trip stop at a beautiful "secret" waterfall. Our tour guide took us to this stop as our final excursion. It was peaceful as there was no one else there but our class. We all just sat in silence and enjoyed our time at this location. Our tour guide also made all of us Icelandic pancakes so then we all shared a meal together. It was a beautiful and calming experience, and one of the best goodbyes. 

The hardest part of studying abroad was trying to do everything in a short amount of time. Since it was a short term study abroad course, and many of our assignments were group work, my peers and I had to get to know each other really quickly. I think we all managed to get along very well and got to know each other outside of the classroom in the short amount of time we had. You had to make an effort to socialize in your free time to form connections with your peers, which is stuff for those of us on the shy side. 

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: I used to think that studying abroad was so out of reach for me. It was never even a possibility in my mind until I saw a poster for this trip and read more about it. It was perfect as it was a short term summer course, meaning it wasn't a commitment of a whole fall or spring semester, which I really liked. Then I applied thinking, “I would love to have this opportunity, but I doubt I’ll be accepted”. Little did I know I'd be on a plane to Iceland about to have the experience of a lifetime! My advice would be if you have any interest and are able to pursue it, do it! The saying "you miss every shot you don't take" applies well here. ​