Name: Anna Wilson, Class of 2021
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org -- Now working fulltime on campus, and available to meet prospective students in person to talk about study abroad!
Program: IFSA Argentine Universities Program, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Fall 2019
Fields of Study: Psychology, Political Science, Spanish minor
How did studying abroad affect your academic and/or professional career?
Studying abroad in Argentina gave me a unique, global perspective in approaching my future and career. Two of my classes - Peronist Argentina & Human Rights and Genocide - were very related to Argentine culture & history. This experience helped me connect what I was learning in the classroom to the world around me and give new meaning to things I had been studying in Political Science classes for years. As I travelled I was able to see the effects of Argentina’s political history first-hand. Additionally, the Spanish immersion I experienced within and outside the classroom helped me realize that I can use my Spanish skills in a future career to connect with a wider variety of people. Being able to practice Spanish in a variety of personal, professional and academic settings instilled me with so much confidence in my Spanish abilities. This confidence and fluency has already opened up so many opportunities for my future and will impact the decisions I make about my career.
How did you explore your hobbies, interests, and passions abroad?
Since I was a freshman in high school I have volunteered as a tutor in socioeconomically disadvantaged schools and developed a strong passion for education equality. Being in Argentina not only strengthened this passion, as I grew to understand the complex realities of their education system but I was able to understand the intricacies and work to help solve the problems through my internship. I worked with an organization called Fundación Uniendo Caminos and volunteered with middle & high school students in the public education system. Through this experience I deepened my passion for volunteering along with expanding my understanding of education equality through a global lens. Additionally, my human rights class taught me so much about politics and advocacy on an international stage and allowed me to find a new passion within the field of Political Science.
Why would you recommend your respective abroad program or location?
Buenos Aires is a huge cultural hub of Latin America and has such a unique history and character. While some of the architecture and culture feels European, it is also distinctly Latin American and there are so many different sides of the city and country to explore. I think that the opportunity to live in such a big city that is so distinct and have complete independence provides such incredible opportunities for growth. Additionally, because it is a large city and metropolitan hub it proves easy to travel to other parts of the country and continent. The travel experiences are unlike anywhere else in the world and beyond how special they are in location, the challenges that you face travelling through South America teach such valuable life skills like problem solving and adaptability. I would recommend IFSA specifically because they do an incredible job of balancing freedom and program experiences. The staff is incredible and is always there to help with anything - whether it be restaurant recommendations, travel advice or host family trouble. IFSA allows their students to take classes at 4 different universities in the city in addition to offering unique classes with leading professors in their fields.
What should students consider when applying and preparing for their time abroad?
I think one of the most important things to consider when you are choosing a place to study abroad is what your goals are for the experience. As a Spanish minor my biggest goal was to be in a place where I could completely immerse myself in Spanish and develop fluency. Though I considered studying in other locations, I spoke to many returned students and advisors who urged me to go to South America to work on my Spanish. By sticking to and prioritizing this goal I was able to narrow my options and find the right place for me. I also think it is crucial to consider how different study abroad experiences will help push you out of your comfort zone. By choosing to live in a big city, on a continent I had never been to, in a country that speaks a different language, I was able to push myself out of my comfort zone in a variety of ways. I don't believe I would have grown nearly as much from my time abroad if I didn't actively choose a challenging experience.
Share a story about a time you experienced cultural immersion.
While I was in Argentina, I was able to connect with my Grandmother’s cousins that had been living in Argentina for generations. They immediately took me in and over the course of the semester, invited me over to family events and holiday parties regularly. When the Jewish High Holidays came around, they invited me to a dinner with about 30 cousins from all over the city. I was the only American there and the only person who spoke English and by throwing myself into this experience I got to understand one of my favorite Jewish traditions in a completely new way. I tried all my favorite holiday foods with an Argentine twist, and experienced complete immersion in their holiday celebrations. On that day when I was completely out of my comfort zone and immersed in theirs, I learned so much about them and created connections with them that will last a lifetime.