Program and Location:
University of Leeds; Leeds, United Kingdom
Why did you choose to study abroad?
I wanted to live in another country, meet people from different backgrounds, and challenge myself academically in a new setting.
What did you learn about yourself?
I learned that I’m more resilient than I thought I was. I learned the value of being alone (from time to time), that it’s okay to eat meals alone or hang out with yourself. Solitude aside, I learned the value of appreciating people for their differences – it creates an incredible sense of connection!
What was one of your favorite parts of your program?
I went to the Lake District, a national park in northern England, with a bunch of other international students. We got lost because we were walking too slowly, and I spent the entire trip talking and meeting new people. I was talking so much that by the time I was headed back to Leeds, I realized I had barely seen anything of the Lake District!
How were your classes abroad different than if you would have taken them at NC State? Did you take any field trips or do anything outside of the traditional classroom?
There was *much* more free time. This was one of the hardest parts of the transition that I’m not quite sure if I mastered – I struggle to make my own productive schedule when I have free time. I did plenty of field trips, including a month of backpacking around Europe (literally carrying only my backpack that I use for class at NC State).
What advice do you have to future study abroad students?
Recognize that it will likely be very difficult in the beginning, but trust that it will pass. Once it passes, you’ll find yourself stronger, smarter, more curious, open-minded, and adventurous than you were when you left.
Would you do it again?
Absolutely. But I’d want to go somewhere with more of a language barrier next!
In what ways did your identity have an impact on your experience abroad?
The countries I visited this past semester are pretty gay-friendly. My identity as a first-generation American was most directly impacted by my time abroad. In the US, I feel Brazilian and in Brazil I feel American. It’s a common identity crisis experienced by children of immigrants. When I was abroad, people saw me as the American, almost erasing my Brazilian identity. It was quite a jarring experience that prompted a lot of reflection.
Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
Connect with others that share your identities. It’s fascinating to see how similar our challenges are with our “siblings” around the world.
Where did you find support to navigate any challenges you faced abroad?
My friends were very supportive, and my partner back home as well. Lots of the challenges I faced head-on, but I don’t recommend that.