Illinois Abroad Student Stories Blog

blog navigation

Illinois Abroad Student Stories Blog

Read about Illini, whose study abroad experiences enriched their global perspective.

blog posts

  • Virtual Global Experience Spotlight: Nicole Park, VA Corps - South Africa

    "Through this internship, I was able to develop my collaboration, networking, andinvestigation skills during my group-based learning projects with global organizations likeUNAids."

  • Discovering the Many Facets of Costa Rica

    “In my classes, I learned about all of Latin America, not just Costa Rica. I really enjoyed this broad curriculum because it complemented my out-of-classroom experiences. It was interesting to learn about migration as a global phenomenon in the context of prevalent economic migration to Costa Rica. Both my coursework and the conversations that I had with locals sparked an interest in this topic that I could see translating into my future career path.”

  • Studying Politics in Switzerland and Interning For the British Parliament

    “After a semester of studying politics in Geneva, Switzerland, I was able to intern at the British Parliament and gained a lot of experience working on public safety initiatives. It was an incredible experience that advanced my professional development. I also experienced British politics on a large scale, but also a small-scale when working with the constituency office. I came back to Illinois having grown professionally, academically and personally. Studying abroad on these programs gave me opportunities to flourish.”  -- Katherine East, junior in Political Science

  • Identity Reflection in Ghana

    “One integral part of the program was identity reflection. Although I don’t personally have Ghanian roots, I feel as though I had impactful experiences that translated into reflecting on my own identity, particularly my race. Our professor and TA incorporated group discussions after every cultural activity. It was powerful and educational to hear what my peers took from our experiences and how they related it to their life and identity. Being on a program like this was very special to me.” - Rosianna Alexander, senior in Human Development and Family Studies

  • Navigating Accessibility In Stirling

    “I was unsure about the culture around disabilities in the UK or what resources would be available to me, but I eventually made a personal decision not to take her [Gaza]. I found that the UK was inclusive, accommodating, and welcoming – when people saw having difficulty with my cane at the airport, or that I was struggling to keep up with the group, they put out a hand, asked if they could assist me, or waited for me to catch up. While abroad, I climbed the 246 steps of the National Wallace Monument and at the end of my program, I even gained enough confidence to climb Dumyat Hill with the people on my program. I love Gaza. She is a part of me, and always will be, but my identity had become ‘the girl with the dog.’ My study abroad experience allowed me to do the self-healing that I needed.”

  • Inclusive Teaching Philosophy Inspired In Granada

    “Granada is a city that is so rich in history and culture from different groups of people. This whole experience really strengthened my belief in the importance of inclusivity in language education curriculum. As a Spanish teacher, I will make it a point to ensure that when teaching history, everybody’s history is a part of the lesson. When teaching the language itself, I think it is so important to teach the different variations of how things are said in Spain, Latin America and South America. It’s one language, but spoken in many different (yet equally beautiful) ways. I can’t wait to teach my students as inclusive of a version of Spanish as I can.” - Daniel Donovan, junior in Spanish Education

  • Learning Languages As A Vessel For Religious Exploration

    “I was raised a Reform Jew, but not really practicing. I learned and went through the motions but didn’t feel a strong connection. My freshman year of college, I converted to Catholicism and found myself feeling more at home. Being Jewish is still a part of who I am, even though my faith is Catholic. At times it is difficult to reconcile the two parts of my identity, but this experience in Israel helped me realize that I can embrace these parts of myself both separately and at the same time. It was really helpful to find the Hebrew Catholics while I was there, who assisted in me reconciling and accepting that I can be both Jewish and Catholic. Jerusalem will always be a special place for me because of the role it played in helping me connect to my identity.” - Maxine Katz, senior in religion & Spanish

  • Connection and Family In Costa Rica

    “A cool part of going on a small program is how close you get with the people you go with. In our case, we all lived with host families, who even got to know each other. My friend’s host sister took us all around San Joaquin and we all climbed a mountain together! It was really cool because I wouldn’t have had that experience without the close connection between our host families. I also loved getting to bond with locals on a deeper level, not just my host family!”

  • Creative Thesis Inspiration Found While Abroad

    “I spent my semester abroad in Perth, which is on the southwest coast of Australia. I grew up in Los Angeles on the southwest coast of the United States and spent a lot of time as a child around water. Being in that environment was quite inspirational to me. I had vague ideas about wanting to create a piece revolving around bodies of water and their parallels to the human body, but my concrete ideas formed and came to life during my time in Perth. I directed a video that serves as the first of three parts that make up my senior thesis in collaboration with composers and videographers who also attended the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts. We visited several national parks around Western Australia to film the video, so that was a great way to explore areas outside of Perth. I grew more confident in myself as an artist when creating this piece. It embodies a part of who I’ve always been, and a part of myself that I grew into throughout this experience.” -- Symone Sanz, senior in dance

  • Just Do the Thing: Learning in and Out of the Classroom

    “I stared back in awe at the undeniable beauty the Cathédrale Notre-Dame epitomized. I don’t know what it was about that day, April 14th to be exact, that compelled me to fixate on the monument. But I’m really glad that I did because the next day it was on fire. That seemingly normal taxi ride as we concluded our spring break in Paris is one I will never forget. Being close to such a sad event was a wake up call reminding me that every opportunity in life should be taken before it’s gone. Whether it’s holding onto one last look or embracing any experience that comes my way, it’s a reminder that life is oh-so-fragile. It’s a reminder to just do the thing. Because of this re-instilled urgency to live life to its fullest, I hiked Monte Brè in Switzerland, and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.” -- Maddie Ehret, senior in journalism