Written by: Samantha Lopez & Kevin Washington
“Why should anyone consider studying abroad?”
It is an opportunity to be exposed to and learn about a new world. You never really get to know a region’s culture or religion, their people’s habits, food, and language among other things until you experience it. An abroad opportunity gives you this and much more in your personal and professional growth. As a student, you are introduced to survival, to the adaptation to an unknown environment, and suddenly you come to a realization. You could have climbed the great wall of China, landed in Turkey for a layover, or been standing at the top of the Burj Khalifa, whatever the case may be, you realize that you managed to get there. Your hard work had paid off, and it’s up to you to turn your experience into a valuable one.
Fear of the unknown eventually becomes minimal, and all you hope for is to keep learning more and keep the adventure going. Studying abroad opened many interests for me after completing the trip, like I became more engaged with community work, I searched for more study abroad opportunities, and I assisted other students to apply for these same opportunities and get a taste of liberty.
If this is your first trip abroad, take a deep breath and relax. The difficult part has already been completed, so try and make the most fun out of it. Do your research before landing at your destination and learn about activities, centers, parks, events, and anything that will make your experience unique. Make every second count and build connections with other students. They are most likely feeling the same way you are, so be approachable and get the best out of your study aborad trip.
Students traveling the world:
DDCE Global has dedicated time and resources to support students, from all backgrounds, in their study abroad journey. We know many students at UT dream to travel the world and gain skills and experience in their fields of study but may lack the opportunity for several reasons here at UT. We focus on providing accessible programs to students who we see have a strong passion for exploring, getting out of their comfort, and being ready to be exposed to the unknown. Here we highlight 3 incredible students who studied abroad with us and tell us a fraction of what they have experienced.
Kevin Washington is a senior at UT who studies International Relations & Global Studies. He began solo traveling at the age of 17 and now, at 22 he speaks 4 languages and has traveled to 8 countries in various regions of the world. On his latest journey, Kevin had the amazing opportunity to travel to Ghana, West Africa with the Heman Sweatt Center for Black Males. This initiative was led by Dr. Ryan Sutton and Dr. Devin Walker. When asked to describe his experience in one word, he chose the word “self-liberating.” Well, why did he feel this way? As he reflected on his adventure, Kevin said, “It was cool to be surrounded by just Black people, my people. It felt like I had come back to a home that I never experienced, that I never knew existed and for me, finding that was the treasure.”
Tiba Al Faraji:
Tiba Al Faraji is one of the most extraordinary students and greatest friends one could find as her kindness and optimistic personality set her apart from the crowd. Tiba traveled to the UAE with DDCE Global in 2022. Of her experience, she shares: “The most exciting thing about my trip to the UAE is that I got to do many things that I would have never done before. The Dubai and Abu Dhabi trip was eye-opening. Seeing how different the UAE is from what the media makes it out to be, was a startling experience.” We can only agree that we would have to experience this trip for ourselves to see what this trip can give us. Tiba is a senior in communications and leadership studies with a certificate in business and public policy.
Abigail Romeo is a walking star as her positivity spills outwards, encouraging others to take part in wild adventures. When asked about her most exciting moments in the UAE, she responded,” The most exciting thing about my trip to the UAE was the culture and the grand scale of everything. I visited an indoor rainforest, shopped in the biggest mall in the world, looked down from the tallest building ever created, and finally walked around the beautiful Qasr Al Watan.” She also shared with us her reflection after the trip, “I opened my mind and heart to the rich culture around me. There I learned about myself, and the moment I touched down in America, I thought, “When can I do this again?” Abigail is now a senior and Global Student Fellow. Post-graduation she hopes to work in a non-profit and pursue her master’s degree.