Attending the study abroad fair on Sept. 12 in the SMC atrium, I had the opportunity to interview a past study abroad student, Esther Verkouw, who currently works at the Office of International Programs and Services.
She helps others find the best suited experience for them when they study abroad. She decided to study abroad her junior year during her spring semester in the beautiful city of Mexico. I asked her a series of questions to get entail on her overall experience.
Q: “What advice would you give to a student who has never studied abroad before?”
“Just do it!” She described the opportunity as a life changing experience that she would definitely recommend to anyone interested. Esther added that the process of applying to study abroad does take quite a good amount of dedication, but if you are truly committed, you will find yourself living in your dream destination in no time.
Q: “What are important tips to remember when studying abroad in a foreign country?”
“Be open to the culture. Be safe; healthy fear is good.” Verkouw stressed to constantly engage in learning when abroad. Education is not just about what you learn from within the four walls of a classroom, but also what you might learn from just popping by a local market to interact more with the local culture.
Q: “What was the most memorable thing you took with you after studying abroad, and would you go back?”
“I definitely would go back!” She learned that distance can never separate true friendship. But, most importantly, no matter where you decide to travel to, the culture itself is very impactful and will leave you awaiting your next travel experience.
Q: “Is it nerve-racking living in a foreign country for an extended period of time?”
“Absolutely, but stepping out of your comfort zone is what makes the experience worthwhile.” While studying abroad she saw how putting herself out there allowed her to grow as a person, while also participating in a once in a lifetime experience.
Q: “What was the most interesting thing you did and weirdest meal you ate while studying abroad?”
“Banda dance competition and monkey brains in a taco.”
After talking with Ester I think it is safe to say that studying abroad is a great opportunity and a wonderful culture experience that I would recommend to anyone. To learn more about the study abroad program, visit their website here.