Meet Erik Rodriguez he/him
Program and Location:
Spring, Vienna University of Economics and Business; Vienna, Austria
Why did you choose to study abroad?
I’ve always wanted to learn more about the world from a first person perspective and studying abroad was the perfect opportunity to do that. Getting to see how life in another country would be is really eye opening and can prepare me for future career opportunities. I chose Europe specifically because of the history there and how well it has been preserved as well as some of the most beautiful nature sights in the world.
What was one of your favorite parts of your program?
One of my favorite parts about the program is the fact that you have the support of 2 schools during the time of your trip. VU did a great job welcoming students to Vienna by introducing them to both local and other international students with the social events they would put on.
What advice do you have to future study abroad students?
I would advise other students to try to make friendships with local students. They can be a lot of help when you are navigating a foreign city in what to eat, what to do, the best way to travel and other general tips. They are also great connections to have for any future trips or to recommend to other people who are visiting the same place as you.
How did your study abroad experience prepare you for your future career?
I am in the College of Management and in the modern business world it is a standard for companies that are successful to be international as well. More than ever there is a need for employees to be able to visit other states or countries to talk to potential clients or investors. My experience with studying abroad serves as an important introduction into that necessity of being able to adapt to new places and people.
In what ways did your identity have an impact on your experience abroad?
In the majority of European cities and countries, there is significantly less diversity than in the US which makes sense considering the history of the US. Though because there is less of a Latin American population in they tend to have more questions about my culture which I was happy to answer. There is a certain level of ignorance though and you can tell that some local citizens do not take kindly to foreigners.
Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
I would suggest that they don’t hesitate to share more about their culture. The majority if not all assumptions that are made are simply from people not knowing much about Latin America outside of certain stereotypes, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, just a learning experience from them. There is also more support for Latin American communities than you might think, such as finding shops based on their cuisine or immigrants who come from your home country.
Where did you find support to navigate any challenges you faced abroad?
I found my support in other international students, particularly those from the US. While we come from different schools our experiences are similar and working together we found solutions to every challenge we faced.
Would you do it again?