Meet Mia Handlogten (she/her/hers)

Program and Location:

Fall, Mahidol University: Bangkok, Thailand


Psychology and Criminology with Cognitive Science minor

Why did you choose to study abroad?

I chose to study abroad to embark on a new adventure and to gain a greater understanding of the world we live in. I would always hear stories on how life changing a semester abroad could be and knew as soon as I entered NC State that I wanted to take advantage of the various study abroad opportunities for myself. I wanted to venture outside of my comfort zone and what I am so use to at home and push myself to embark on a new experience in which I would learn so many invaluable lessons, create once on a lifetime memories, and meet a whole new group of friends that would become a second family.

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned from studying abroad that I am much more independent than I previously thought. The thought of leaving my family and friends at home was daunting at first but I learned how to live and flourish by myself, which is a great life lesson to have. And once I learned what I needed and how to care for myself, it was easy to make friends that aligned with what I needed and wanted from the adventure. I also learned how many opportunities there are after graduation to continue traveling. I used to view life as rigid milestones to be met that included getting your life long career right after graduation. After studying abroad and meeting so many people on different life paths I know life is not a rigid timeline that has to be followed, but that there are many adventures that can be taken after college as well.

What was one of your favorite parts of your program?

My favorite part of the program was meeting a whole new group of friends that I was able to become close with really quickly. From week long trips, to game nights, to nightly dinners we were really able to form deep connections that made being away from family not so difficult. Towards the end of the program, they started to feel like my family, and I am so lucky to have shared so many of my studying abroad memories with them.

What was your experience with navigating COVID-19 abroad?

Because COVID-19 was spreading quickly in Asia there was not a lot of tourists there at the same time I was. Although I do not wish that COVID-19 was spreading throughout the world, this ended being a once in a lifetime experience as I was able to visit all the attractions and big tourists spots in Thailand without them being over crowded. I got to visit multiple beaches, islands, and temples, usually were overpacked with tourists, that were almost empty and calm. Without the large amount of tourists, it also gave me the opportunity to really get to build relationships with the locals wherever I went and give me a more emerged experience abroad. I would talk to and visit the same local Thai people and they would teach me more of their culture or just talk about life and we could build a friendship in the times of uncertainly due to COVID-19.

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

Studying abroad gave me first hand experience on how much culture and society play a role on human development and social norms which is vital information to understand in psychology and criminology.

What advice do you have for future study abroad students?

The advice I would give to people looking studying abroad is to just go! I was nervous at first not knowing anyone or missing out on a semester at home but it was one of the best decisions that led to the coolest experiences of my life. Venture outside your comfort zone and you will really learn what pushes you as a person.

Would you do it again?

I would without a question study abroad again. The memories made and people I met in one semester could fill me with a lifetime of happiness. I would love to take another trip and see what I could learn about the world and about myself as an individual.