Panther Portrait: Study Abroad Fair

SOFIA LEGASPI, Campus Life Editor

Students perused opportunities to explore the world at the Study Abroad Fair last Wednesday, Jan. 23. Past participants, course leaders and study abroad staff were available to answer questions at various tables stationed around the Maucker Union ballroom.

Junior TESOL major Nina Hucke was volunteering at the South Korea table. Hucke spent last semester at Soonchunhyang University, taking classes in English and working as a conversation partner with Korean students who were learning English.

“Study abroad, in general, has been something I’ve been interested in for a long time because traveling is really exciting, and I’ve always wanted to see other countries. And I’ve also always been interested in other languages,” Hucke said. “Basically I just wanted a chance to be immersed in another language and another culture and just really explore that other place for a while.”

Niko Muniz, a junior majoring in marketing and management, spent last semester abroad as well, studying at the American College of Greece. Beyond being able to experience much of Europe, including Amsterdam and Berlin, he also learned how major the cultural differences between people can be.

“I have so much more respect and understanding for different cultures now,” Muniz said. “Being thrown into a culture that you’re not used to, you kind of learn to adapt, so now if anyone comes up to me and doesn’t maybe speak English, I’ll be more willing to help them because I know exactly what it’s like.”

Hucke said she also learned valuable lessons about interacting with those completely different from herself, in addition to improving her Korean speaking.

“Which is still sub-par,” she noted, “but getting better.”

For students on the fence about studying abroad, Hucke encouraged them to take the leap.

“If you’ve got the opportunity [to study abroad] and it’s feasible, always go for it. It’s just amazing to get to be in another place and do something that you can’t do in Iowa,” she said. “There’s so much out there. Wherever you end up, you’ll just have really unique experiences that you can’t get in Iowa, or even in America.”

“I would say definitely think about it hard, but don’t think too much, and just kind of go for it,” Muniz said. “Because that’s what I did. I didn’t really think too much and just went for it, and I learned a lot about myself and about the world.”

UNI’s Study Abroad Center offers both short- and long-term programs in over 30 different countries. More information is available on their website.