Meet Niambé James

Program and Location:

Fall, University of Adelaide: Adelaide, Australia

Major/Minor:

Sustainable Materials & Technology

Why did you choose to study abroad?

Studying abroad had been a dream of mine ever since I first learned about the experience in high school. I love to travel, so the opportunity to explore new places while earning credits towards my degree was something I could not wait to take part in. Additionally, I am very passionate about sustainability, and I knew that studying abroad would allow me to observe sustainable practices outside of the United States.

What did you learn about yourself?

While I was abroad I learned how much I love connecting with other people. During the end of my experience I went on a solo trip around the east coast of Australia. While I embarked on this journey alone, I rarely felt lonely. I met and shared experiences with people from all over the world, and this is something I never thought I would be able to do.

What was one of your favorite parts of your program?

One of my favorite parts of my program was mid-semester break. My friend and I traveled to Southeast Asia, and we were able to explore parts of Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand over the two-week period. This was my first time visiting the continent, and it was an experience I will never forget. I walked around Angkor Wat and met a survivor from a Khmer Rouge prison camp I had toured just minutes before.

What advice do you have for future study abroad students?

I would advise future study abroad students to challenge themselves to stray outside of their comfort zone. There are a multitude of experiences ahead of you, and you don’t want to let nerves cause you to miss out on them!

How did your study abroad experience prepare you for your future career?

In my future career I want to work with climate change and sustainability. These are global issues, so they will require global collaboration to find suitable solutions. In my classes, I participated in discussions and debates with my Australian peers as well as other international students. I was able to hear from different perspectives to work on problems facing today’s environment, and this gave me practice for what I will have to do in the future.

Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?

There will come a time when you will look around and notice that you are the only person in a room that looks like you. In situations such as these, I encourage other students of color to hold their heads up and remember that they belong in these spaces. People may make offensive comments, try to touch your hair, or exhibit other ignorant behaviors, but don’t let this ruin your trip. You may be a minority, but you will find a group of people you can hang out with and feel comfortable around.

Would you do it again?

Most definitely, without hesitation.