There’s no denying that 2020 has been off to a rough start for people all over the world, and USAC students have been no exception. If you’re in the middle of planning your study abroad or just thinking about getting started, you might be feeling some hesitation – which is completely understandable. However, we’re here to assure you that study abroad will start up again and that we’re working tirelessly to make sure that USAC picks up better than ever as soon as we’re able to. In the meantime, a little inspiration and reminder of the impact and joys that study abroad help us stay motivated. That’s why we’ve gathered some of our favorite student testimonials to keep you inspired and eager to pursue your study abroad dreams.
Allyson – Alicante, Spain
I am so grateful that I had the opportunity and support to study abroad in Alicante, Spain. This experience had been so much more meaningful to me than I had anticipated. I had done some traveling with my family before, but actually living in a different country and assimilating to the culture and ways of doing things has definitely had a greater effect on me. To immerse myself more in the culture I started tutoring kids in English twice a week. I also have an Intercambio, that I meet up with to talk in Spanish and in English. I have gotten a lot more confident and enthusiastic about speaking Spanish since I have been here. I have noticed my progression of becoming more independent since being abroad… During my time abroad I met so many open-minded, special individuals that I couldn’t imagine life without... If I could give one piece of advice to a prospective study abroad student, it would be to be present in where you are in the world and enjoy every moment of it! Living and studying in a different country is such an extraordinary journey that is unique for everyone.
Sarah – Puntarenas, Costa Rica
I chose the Puntarenas, Costa Rica program because of the opportunity to learn a new language in such a short amount of time, because of the ability to live with a host family, and because of the amazing nature of the country. I originally signed up for just one semester but after returning home after the semester I quickly realized I wanted to go back for the next semester. USAC was very helpful in arranging this for me even on such short notice. My 8 months in Costa Rica were truly the best in my life.
My college and major had a language requirement which I was able to fulfill in just one semester. It was really fun starting at the lowest level of Spanish classes and barely being able to communicate with my host mom, to ending in the highest level of classes and even taking classes in Spanish and being able to communicate fully with my host mom. There are so many opportunities for practice and ways to challenge yourself daily.
Costa Rica will always be a special place in my heart that I will continue to visit for the rest of my life. This is all thanks to the amazing USAC staff and community in Puntarenas as well as the kind, happy, and generous Ticos found all of Costa Rica.
Anna – Chiang Mai, Thailand
Studying in Chiang Mai for the first summer session was my first study abroad experience ever. At school, it was amazing to just be students and go around campus in our uniforms just like the Thai students. All the field trips were exciting and eye-opening. I took the maximum amount of credits I could, with Buddhism, Thai Language, Thai Cooking, and the hill Tribe Field Study course. In the field study one, we got to live in villages with the local tribes and get immersed in their culture. learned so much about myself as an independent person, and about how I want to be globally involved. In my school at home, we focus on the global community, but it was a whole different world when I got to interact with a culture so different from mine. For anyone worried about going somewhere so different from western society, I would say to embrace it! It’s not very often you get a chance to completely change your perspective and become more aware.
Ilyana – Nagasaki, Japan
The time I had in Japan was like no other. I had never been to another country before, so it was doubly exciting and anxiety-inducing to get on that plane which would whisk me away for the next 5 months. While in Japan, I was able to take language classes and interact with Japanese people like I never would have been able to in the States. Furthermore, I was able to take classes about the culture and even practice a few forms of traditional martial arts as well as traditional arts. I even joined the tea ceremony club and performed at the local history and culture museum with other club members! I was able to see many different famous Japanese locations, make lifelong friends, and just overall have the time of my life in my study abroad trip. And honestly, I’m dying to go back.
Cameron – Florianopolis, Brazil
USAC Floripa is comparatively cheap to many study abroad programs I researched, but it still offers loads of trips, island tours, and student support through language partners and a really amazing staff. During the Fall semester, USAC students traveled to Iguazu falls. In the Spring, we went on a weekish-long tour of Minas Gerais before the program officially started. This trip was completely planned and organized by USAC and was a great introduction to the country before we were let loose in Floripa. There were a number of fun group hikes and trips once we were on the island of Floripa, but I think the best experiences come to those that use USAC’s resources to plan their own spontaneous hikes and beach trips.
USAC offers a variety of classes taught in English, and you can also enroll in classes at UFSC, the local university next-door to the USAC office. This program is good for students from a lot of backgrounds, including natural resources, business, global economy, arts, etc. My semester even had some engineers and pre-med students that finished their gen-ed requirements in Brazil, so check the USAC website for course offerings. My professors were all extremely passionate and inspired me intellectually and creatively. Take all of the one credit classes that you can because they’re extremely fun and easy, and you’ll learn about Brazilian culture while making friends with some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
Hayley – Bengaluru, India
My time in India was incredible and helped me grow as a person. India is a beautifully complex society and navigating through it challenged me to look at my life and how I want to spend it. It helped open my eyes to what I find most important. Learning about the many facets of Indian culture and society helped broaden my perspective and understanding of this world.
Living in India you learn how to be flexible and adaptable. The culture is extremely different from the West, which makes it the perfect environment to grow personally and become aware of your cultural biases. India definitely is not the easiest place to live, but if you come with an open heart and a willingness to grow you will have the time of your life.
Tessa – Bilbao, Spain
If you had asked me at the beginning of my study abroad journey what I thought would be the most transformative aspect for me, I probably would have answered with my cliché reasons for why I wanted to study abroad in the first place; experiencing a different culture, learning a new language, meeting new people, and exploring new countries. In a way, I wouldn’t have been wrong, but it is how I came to experience all those things that changed me the most. It is difficult to be a college student and try to balance the social, academic, fiscal, physical and mental health aspects of your life, and when you arrive in a new city, country, culture, and environment all the new aspects you are trying to balance can be overwhelming. It was in this overwhelmed state that I learned what it is like to live more fully. Did I enjoy every single thing I did? No. Did I get enough sleep for nine months straight? Definitely not. Did I experience a different culture, learn a new language, meet new people, and explore new countries? Without a doubt. I learned all this in Spain, but I will carry this way of living with me no matter where I am.
Stephanie – Lyon, France
After taking a chance on USAC, I can say with absolute certainty that I made the right decision. This trip was SO affordable considering the level of education and the quality of activities that they provided. My teacher was an actual resident of Lyon, so having her guidance through our cultural experiences as well as forcing us to immerse ourselves in the language itself in and outside of the classroom was unmatched. She was personable and so beyond helpful. I have been learning French for years and found her lessons and practices in grammar to be amazing. She helped me improve my language skills to increase authenticity in my reading and writing.
Sarah – Palmerston North, New Zealand
“I valued my time studying abroad in New Zealand as it gave me the opportunity to experience scientific education in another country. I not only got to learn about the science of New Zealand’s ecosystems and environments but also gained a new perspective on how different countries approach environmental issues with different scientific applications. As a STEM student, I find it incredibly valuable to not only experience a foreign approach of science but to see how and why different approaches are needed around the globe.”
Feeling inspired to start planning your study abroad journey? Visit the USAC website to explore programs and learn how to get started.