¡Hola! I am a senior in civil engineering planning to graduate this fall of 2015. I have actually studied aboard twice while going to Boise State University. First when I was a sophomore in Monterrey, Mexico through the Global Engineering Education Exchange (GE3) from August 2011 to May 2012 and last summer in Costa Rica with an REU program. I will talk about my experience studying at Tecnológico de Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico since it was the more exciting experience. Before I tell you about how great of an experience it was I want to mention that I found out about this amazing experience in my ENGR 120 lecture and found out how I could achieve my dream of studying abroad while studying engineering at the same time.
Studying abroad was the best decision I ever made. It is an experience I will never forget for the rest of my life. I met amazing people from every continent (except Antarctica of course) and still talk to today. I lived on my own for the first time, which was a little scary at first especially since I was in another country but I settled in quickly and started making friends. I wanted to push myself and immerse myself in the culture so I took almost all my classes in Spanish including Calculus 2 and it paid off because now I am fluent in Spanish. I had the opportunity to travel to the Aztec pyramids outside Mexico City and the Mayan pyramids in the Yucatan peninsula. Both of these trips were the most fun I have ever had and will stay with me for a very long time.
Even though I was taking a full load of classes I still had plenty of time to have fun and I even had time to volunteer. In the spring semester I participated in a civil engineering community service project to build a sunshade using recycled materials for a low-income community. I was encouraged to enter a school wide competition for the most distinguished student volunteer. I created a video for the project and also gave a presentation in front of a panel of judges, which included the dean of the school. I was really nervous but because of my hard work and willingness to rise to the challenge I ended up winning the award.
I think every student should study abroad. It is a life changing experience that is priceless. Speaking of money, I paid for my whole year in Mexico without taking out any student loans. Since it was an exchange through GE3 I still paid Boise State tuition and was able to use my financial aid to pay for tuition. I paid for living expenses with a few scholarships I received and the money I had saved up. Money should not be a reason not to study abroad because the memories you will create will pay for themselves.
While studying abroad I finally discovered my true identity. It became clear to me what my true passions were and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, development work in foreign countries. Living in another culture, eating new foods, and speaking a different language is an extremely unique experience. Words fail to describe everything I felt while living in a different country, I experienced things I had never felt before. There were highs and lows which comes with culture shock but I can definitely say it was the best year of my life. Please feel free to contact me to answer any questions about my experience and why YOU should study abroad.