My educational experience at the Universidad Adolfo Ibañez in Chile has been fantastic and memorable. It has given me the opportunity to learn and gain new skills that I will be able to take back home with me, and apply them to all aspects of my life.
“I need you,” newfound friend Javi asserts.
“Why do you need me?” I demand.
Javi: “Para cuidarte, amarte y estar a tu lado” — to take care of you, love you and be by your side. His words sound lovely but remarkably familiar. They come directly from music lyrics.
Tinged with sexism, many of my conversations with Dominican males took a — romantic turn. Out of nowhere, men love me, need me and miss me. One suggested that I make him “feel brand new” — straight from a 1973 Stylistics hit song. We listen to merengue and bachata music, traveling to daily excursions on our chartered bus. Sometimes, the lyrics are in English, unmistakable. Hence, I know the source of Javi’s quixotic lines.
Music profoundly impacts Dominican discourse.
“Why am I required to study abroad? I am from abroad!”
Admittedly, this was my first thought as my major adviser scanned through my major classes checklist and with a red pen, circled a few words — the deep red ink seemingly bringing the words to a life I was unwilling to dive into again: “To graduate: Study Abroad Requirement.”
Listen. If a branch falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, yes, the branch has fallen; just ask the twigs crunching noisily beneath my boots. A cacophony reaches my ears while nature’s beauty informs my eyes — the forest has its own language. The central mountain range near Bonoa, Dominican Republic speaks a distinct, mellifluous dialect.
Rio Blanco Ecotourism Complex is a 2-hour drive from our hotel in Zona Colonia. A day spent learning about local agricultural issues and the intricacies of coffee production and communing with the environment during free time overwhelms my heart with a sense of privilege, social responsibility and appreciation for the Cordillera Centra.
If you’re reading this, do it. Pull the trigger. Study abroad.
My message, as a double major in Finance and Economics having been involved in SDSU Greek Life, Associated Students and other organizations and activities, is simple: Going abroad is a great educational, social, and cultural experience. The rewards by far outweigh any concerns, if any, you may have with the Study Abroad process.
I was not sure what to expect on my journey, as I would be leaving the United States for the first time. I was especially anxious since I know being American is not always received well by other people in other countries. Many of my friends and family members did not even know where the Czech Republic was.
It turns out, I had nothing to worry about.
Although not as many people smile in Prague as in San Diego, I’ve learned not to take it personally. Luckily, during the time that I have been in this country, I have not experienced a culture shock — but I was not immune to the jet lag. In the time I have spent here thus far, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about the dark and tragic times during and leading up to The Holocaust, explored various places of worship and admired the glorious architecture of this city.
Mbola tsara from Madagascar!
Most days this summer, you’ll find me hiking through the forest on a tiny tropical island called Nosy Komba, located off the northwest coast of Madagascar. I’m volunteering with an organization called Madagascar Research and Conservation Institute, doing forest conservation work in a threatened type of rainforest called sambirano. Despite the hot and humid weather, the absurd number of mosquito bites on my legs and the occasional pangs of homesickness for the people and places I’ve left behind, I’m incredibly glad to be here.
I’ve met some really cool people from all over the world, I’m learning new skills while helping to protect a valuable forest ecosystem, and I get to live in a beautiful location all summer.
I know what the stereotypical American looks like. The country of my birth identifies me as African-American. My own country misconstrues my national identity. However, a passage in my passport “requests all whom may be concerned to permit the citizen/national of the United States named herein to pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need to give all lawful aid and protection.”
This is especially contemplative, considering how people of color are treated in the U.S. Traveling abroad, I am no longer a suspicious, hyphenated or sub-American — I become a fully embodied U.S. citizen.
When I moved to California, having grown up on the East Coast, I thought that San Diego was as relaxed as business culture was going to get. I was wrong.
I began my internship at a boutique travel agency in Ecuador about a week ago, and business culture here could not be more different.