Location and Program:
Spring, Stellenbosch University; Stellenbosch, South Africa
Paper Science Engineering
Why did you choose to study abroad?
I choose to study abroad because I enjoy learning about new parts of the world and being exposed to other cultures. I’ve met a lot of people from outside the U.S. on exchange, and wanted in turn to be on an exchange myself.
What did you learn about yourself?
I learned that I enjoy being fully immersed in the unfamiliar, seeing somewhere different. I want to continue this with living abroad at some point. I also learned about my appreciation for home. Having been on the move so much, I realized the value that reconnecting with long standing friendships and family after a trip can provide.
What was one of your favorite parts of your program?
I enjoyed the wildlife I was able to see. I traveled to the opposite side of the country and got to do a self drive through Kruger National Park. I fulfilled a lifelong goal of seeing traditional African wildlife. To add to this, I was able to do it alongside the person who is now my girlfriend.
What advice do you have to future study abroad students?
Go somewhere that you don’t have a lot of connection or prior knowledge about; find a fresh canvas. Really entertain areas that have significant influences from non-western cultures, I found that it provided me with a lot more to learn. They also can be under applied to and increase your chances of going.
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?
Grades operated on a fundamentally different system of expectation. A 50% was considered passing, and not viewed poorly. This also corresponded to courses being much harder. There was little memorization and more learning about application, with expectations of not being able to fully complete problems but seeing how much competency you could demonstrate. This created a different culture around grades, and I felt like I learned more over there.
Would you do it again?
Absolutely, I loved studying abroad. I would say I had strained myself with such a quick turn around from working on coop to then living overseas, and would avoid such quick turnarounds in the future.
This post was originally published in Study Abroad.